Readers’ Views

Grateful for article

To the Editor:

Judy Bryan did outstanding work telling the story of a recent PEO Program for Continuing Education grant to a local woman. Ms. Bryan remains one of the finest reporters in the area. She is easy to work with and tells a story in an interesting and entertaining way. We feel most fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her, and want to thank her in a public way.

PEO is a Philanthropic Educational Organization with a local chapter in Fairmont. Ms. Bryan continues to support the importance of education and is indeed a friend to this community. Thank you, Ms. Bryan.

Catherine Johnson

and Jane Kotewa

PEO, Fairmont

Addition cannot match

To the Editor:

I would like to address the concerns that have been raised by some members of the community about the proposed addition to the Fairmont Opera House.

According to the State Historic Preservation Office and due to the fact that the Fairmont Opera House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, any addition that is placed on the exterior of the building must be non-competitive. Therefore, although it would be wonderful to have the proposed addition match the current historic facility, it cannot; it must be complementary to the Fairmont Opera House.

According to the National Parks Service website “new additions should be designed and constructed so that the character-defining features of the historic building are not radically changed, obscured, damaged or destroyed in the process of rehabilitation. New design should always be clearly differentiated so that the addition does not appear to be part of the historic resource.”

Although it may not look as people wish, the proposed facility will allow us to better serve the community during our arts activities. We will be fully accessible for all people, regardless of physical abilities. We will have the ability to provide a safer and more secure place for patrons to attend shows, artists to perform, and volunteers and staff to work. We will be able to provide an enhanced art experience through upgrades in our current facility and the proposed addition. Everything that we are working to do will have a significant impact for the better on the patrons, artists and staff here in our beloved Opera House.

To address the cost, yes, it does seem expensive. But please keep in mind that the Fairmont Opera House was built in 1901. This is an old building that needs tender love and care to remain standing. This comes with a hefty price tag. In order to meet the standards set by the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Register of Historic Places, we must use materials similar to those used when the building was built for our restoration efforts.

Furthermore, I would like to point out that we have already raised 20 percent of our $10 million goal, without sending out a single pledge card. We have worked diligently over the last five months to ensure that we have seed money for this project. We will continue to work hard to ensure that the community will not bear the full expense of the project, although we will need your help to reach our financial goals. We have survived on the generosity of this community since Day 1, so I anticipate that we will be able to thrive on the generosity of the community for generations to come.

I love this building and this organization as much as the next person. I have enjoyed show after show as a patron, a performer, and now as executive director. And as executive director, it is my responsibility to ensure that every person in Fairmont, Martin County, southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, from wherever in this country or this world have access to the arts here at the Fairmont Opera House. This proposed addition will allow us to do so.

Blake Potthoff

executive director

Fairmont Opera House