MENOMINEE — With help from the John and Julie Henes Foundation, the Menominee Opera House is moving forward with renovations to the historic building. So far, according to Board of Directors member Mike Kaufman, the Opera House’s bathrooms and dressing room area are up and running. Their next step, Kaufman said, is handling the old projection booth from the Opera House’s time as a movie theater in the 1950s. Bill Huntley, another board member, said the building isn’t ever going to use the booth again, so the plan is to either remove it completely or stabilize it so it doesn’t cause issues for renovating the lobby, which is right underneath. Once the booth is taken care of, Kaufman said they’ll be able to address the lobby area.

Huntley and Kaufman said they were planning to have an engineer come up from Green Bay to help them make a plan for the booth, however once the bad weather hit and temperatures dropped far below zero, they’ve had to postpone the engineer’s visit. “The building isn’t heated,” Huntley said, “so we didn’t want him to come in when the building is at minus-18 degrees inside. We want to make sure he’s comfortable when he comes.”

He explained that the Opera House’s renovations are separated into two “tracks” that work simultaneously; one focuses on construction projects, and the other on events.  

Huntley said the board is planning to hold four events through the summer at this point, however this is subject to change. “Most of the events will be open-house events with entertainment on the stage,” he said. In the future, he said that the board wants to get to a point where they’re holding ticketed events rather than just accepting donations as people come in.

He also said that the Opera House also wants to promote the possibility of renting out the building to other people in the area to host their own events. Huntley said there was a recent wedding held at the Opera House, and that it’s a popular location for students to have their senior photos taken as well.

Huntley also said the John and Julie Henes Foundation is currently matching donations given to the Opera House dollar for dollar, with the goal of raising $100,000. The foundation agreed to match donations in early November and will continue until April 30. So far, Kaufman said the Opera House has raised about $24,000 of that goal, with $12,000 alone coming from their annual meeting in January.