the Colaborative Inc

Central City Opera House

Client: Central City Opera House Association

Site: Central City, Colorado

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Central City Opera House is considered by many to be the finest example of Cornish masonry in the western United States. Built in the 1870’s, this structure seats approximately 800 persons and still functions, with performances of three to four operas each summer. A Historic Structures Report was prepared by the Collaborative as part of an overall property study for the Central City Opera House Association. As a Register property all of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation applied. Design drawings for both reconstruction of lost elements and restoration planning, as well as maintenance plans were provided as part of this report. Missing elements included the original roof and cresting. Using historic photographs, design drawings were developed to replicate these elements. The box terne roof was particularly complex and included ornaments of terne metal. The cresting was cast iron, and unlike any other design found on an historic building or in any literature. Since Central City had its own foundries, it is likely that it was an original design from a local company, and thus it was recreated from photographs. The rear wall of the opera house had suffered severe damage from moisture and earth pressure and was nearing the point of collapse. The Collaborative along with JVA Structural Engineers, developed a temporary restraining system that would stabilize the structure until a more permanent solution could be found and implemented. Our permanent solution involved strengthening the exterior in a historically appropriate manner by relieving the pressure of the toe of the hill against the wall, and improving site drainage. At the second floor, deteriorated exit balconies were removed and replaced.