Restoring the historic Sheridan Opera House has been an ongoing goal of the Arts Foundation, and we have made great strides towards preserving this national treasure.
To date, the SAF has spent more than $1,400,000 on the restoration process. With start-up funds granted by the Town of Telluride the Colorado State Historic Fund the SAF hired specialists in 1999 to create a Preservation Master Plan and Historic Structural Assessment of the Opera House. This Master Plan provided the blueprints for the three phases of restorative work that was to follow.
2000-2002 Phase One
With a $149,500 grant award from Colorado State Historic Fund and an $82,000 cash match raised to complete the project, the SAF completed Phase One of the restoration, which addressed the Opera House's most critical safety and preservation issues. This work included the theater ceiling, total repair of the crumbling bricks on the exterior façade, the addition of a firewall above the stage, and other safety improvements.
2003-2005 Phase Two
Lucky to be the recipients of another generous State Historic Fund Grant ($260,000) and an additional $50,000 grant from the Gates Family Foundation, the SAF tackled Phase Two and completed the project in two short years, fundraising the additional $440,000 required.
Phase Two saw a total re-configuration of the emergency exit staircase in the alley, drainage issues addressed, the building re-roofed, and most notably, the original maple flooring in the theater restored.
2005-2008 Phase Three
Phase Three addressed a myriad of safety and aesthetic improvements to the Opera House, at a cost of over $360,000, which was raised entirely by the SAF. During this phase, a fire sprinkler and alarm system was installed throughout the building, the theater's seating was enhanced, an air conditioning system installed, woodwork was restored throughout the building, new carpeting was installed, the bathrooms were newly tiled, and numerous improvements were made to our technical and production equipment.
Historic Stencil Replication
Photos discovered in 2002 detail original stenciling in many areas of the auditorium. Working from those photos, Jeff Greene, of EverGreene Painting, uncovered some of the stencils beneath several layers of paint. It soon became one of the final remaining goals of the SAF to replicate the historic stenciling of the Opera House theater auditorium.
According to Jeff Greene, the original decorative painting of the Sheridan Opera House is significant because it is a rare example of the transitional period between the Art Nouveau style of the late 1800s and the Craftsman style of the 1920s. Because this transitional style is so rare and unusual, the Sheridan Opera House represents a "missing link" along the continuum of architectural styles in the United States.
Many opera houses in the Rocky Mountain region during the early 20th century were decorated in a classical, more traditional style, while the Opera House's bold stenciling is an edgier, more innovative kind of decoration for that time period.
After many years of research, grant writing and fundraising, the SAF has finally made the historical stencil replication a reality. In fall of 2009, Atmosphere Custom Painting of Buena Vista, CO, gave a bid on the project that could not overlooked. Originally quoted at $ 91,000, ACP quoted a much more reasonable $ 30,000, yet under the condition that the project be completed in October of the same year. Although hard economic times in 2009 made it seem difficult to pursue this project, this was a rare window of opportunity that the SAF felt had to be pursued.
With generous contributions from many Telluride locals, Joe and Diane Steinberg and the San Miguel County; Phase I of the stencil replication was completed in October 2009. The final Phase II, stenciling of the side and back walls of the main floor as well as the back wall of the balcony, was completed in April 2010.