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Derby’s Opera House Could Get Another $150,000

by Eugene Driscoll | Jun 24, 2009 12:48 pm

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Posted to: Derby

Photo: Jodie Mozdzer

The city could receive another $150,000 to be used toward the renovation of the Sterling Opera House on Elizabeth Street, Mayor Anthony Staffieri announced this week.

The money was secured by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and is included in an interior and environment appropriation bill. The next step is for the bill to be reviewed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

During its history, the Sterling Opera House, built in 1889, featured performances by comedian Red Skelton and John Philip Sousa. It later housed City Hall and the police department, but then fell into disrepair.

City officials are trying to raise between $10 to $12 million to restore the building to its former glory.

In April, Derby received a $25,000 grant from the Conn. Trust for Historic Preservation. The money will be used for building and fire code analysis.

The new money will go toward the overall design of the interior of the building, according to a prepared statement from Staffieri’s office.

City officials, in an attempt to keep the building from further deterioration, renovated and sealed the outside of the building.

The Sterling Opera House was a popular feature at this year’s Derby Day, held June 20, when city officials allowed guided tours inside parts of the building.

The opera house project may take on additional importance, as the Derby courthouse on Elizabeth Street may close due to cost-cutting measures by the state.

City officials see the renovation of the opera house as a key element in Derby’s downtown revitalization.

“This opera house will being new life to Derby’s downtown and new life to the surrounding communities once fully restored,” Staffieri said in a prepared statement.

DeLauro said she hoped the restoration of the historic building would generate interest in the arts, along with spurring economic development.

City Alderman Ken Hughes said the city will continue to seek grants so the restoration costs are “not carried by our taxpayers.”

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