Litchfield Opera House: Secure Building Envelope

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Greater Litchfield Opera House Association, Inc.
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
January 2011
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Completed exterior masonry preservation and rebuild missing entrance column of the Litchfield Opera House which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The building envelope is experiencing disintegrating and spalling masonry, cracks in mortar joints and walls, and possible water intrusion.  The project restored the physical and visual integrity of the masonry envelope and remove safety threats caused by the unstable parapet.

Overview of Scope of Work:

  1. Remove all destructive portland cement mortar joints and repoint mortar joints on north wall. Replacement mortar will match the historic mortar in composition, texture, color, and joint profile.
  2. Replace spalled and deteriorated brick on north wall.
  3. Repair parapets including the replacement of the existing non-original precast concrete caps, extensive repair and selective replacement of brick from the top of the metal cornice up the concrete caps.    
  4. Repair and paint metal cornice.
  5. Reset spires that are loose from base.

The Litchfield Opera House has been an active participant in community life for over 100 years. The building first served as a theater and community meeting space, and was eventually developed into administrative/community service offices. The Opera House is a well preserved example of Renaissance Revival style architecture, rare in Litchfield and Meeker County. The Litchfield Opera House was built in 1900 to serve the greater community as a gathering place for social functions and entertainment. In the early years the Opera House was well attended as evidenced by the many national theatrical groups visiting Litchfield. In addition, other events such as concerts, high school commencements, debates, lectures, celebrations and visiting dignitaries graced the Opera House.

In 1935, the Opera House was completely remodeled and reopened as the Litchfield Community Building. In 1965-1970, the City of Litchfield renovated the Opera House for City offices, which included sandblasting the exterior and repointing masonry joints with portland cement. In 2002 the building was closed due to "mold" issues. In October 2006 the Litchfield City Council voted to demolish the building. In March 2007, a Reuse Study was commissioned by the City of Litchfield. In September 2007, after nearly six years of debate, the City Council voted  6-1 to sell the building for $1 to GLOHA. A restoration program has been in place since January 2008.

Project Details
To complete exterior masonry preservation and rebuild missing entrance column of the Litchfield Opera House, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Legal Citation / Subdivision
LAWS of MINNESOTA for 2009 Ch. 172, Art. 1, Subd. 4 (b), Statewide Historic and Cultural Grants
Appropriation Language

(b) Statewide Historic and Cultural Grants. (i) $2,250,000 in 2010 and $4,500,000 in 2011 are appropriated for history programs and projects operated or conducted by or through local, county, regional or other historical or cultural organizations; or for activities to preserve significant historic and cultural resources. Funds are to be distributed through a competitive grants process. The Minnesota Historical Society shall administer these funds using established grants mechanisms, and with assistance from the advisory committee created herein.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Street Address
28 East 3rd Street
Zip Code
Administered By
Administered by

345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155