The Rise of Scaffolds and Upsidedown Horseshoes
Leadville Opera House Rehab Underway
The first phase of an estimated $10 million rehabilitation of the historic Tabor Opera House in Leadville, Colo., has just begun. Scaffolding is now up on the most-damaged south and west exterior walls, ready to repair crumbling bricks and leaking windows. This is the first full rehabilitation since 1902 for the elegant opera house, built in 1879 in just 100 days by Colorado’s legendary mining magnate Horace Tabor.
The larger rehabilitation is expected to take years and, after decades of deferred maintenance, will restore the Tabor to its original glory while making it functional for modern times. Community and rental space in the grand ballroom, a modernized stage and theatre, and retail space in the two street-level storefronts are among the vision for the future Tabor Opera House. Fundraising continues for future phases, to make this vision a reality.
Leadville’s Tabor Opera House Kicks Off Long-Awaited Rehabilitation
A public-private partnership between the City of Leadville and Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation raised nearly $1.5 million for this first phase of rehabilitation, which is expected to be complete in late summer 2021.
Funding was provided by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund, National Park Service Save America’s Treasure program, Colorado State Historical Fund, National Trust for Historic Preservation & American Express Partners in Preservation program, and City of Leadville. Partners in Preservation funds were earned by Tabor Opera House supporters far and wide whose online voting helped the Tabor win first place and $150,000 in a national campaign.
“The City and Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation have worked tirelessly to raise $1,450,000 towards the phase one facade rehabilitation of our National Treasure the historic Tabor Opera House,” said Leadville Mayor Greg Labbe. “The City and Foundation are elated that work will commence on this very important first phase rehabilitation project in the summer of 2020.”
Said Foundation President Mary Ann Graham Best: “The Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation is excited to partner with the City of Leadville on this monumental step for the Tabor Opera House. The rehabilitation will position the Tabor to be a future economic driver for Leadville. Thank you to the Leadville community and beyond for your passionate support of the Tabor.”
The Foundation cancelled its 2020 summer season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the silver lining of providing more time to focus on the long-awaited construction.
Heritage A&M, a joint venture of Heritage Window Restoration, LLC, of Commerce City and A&M Renovations, LLC, of Johnstown, Colo., were hired after a deliberative and competitive bid process by the City of Leadville to carry out this first phase of rehabilitation. They are joined by Agave Landscapes & Masonry, Inc. of Salida, with project oversight provided by Hoehn Architects, PC of Evergreen, Colo.
About the Tabor Opera House
Mining magnate Horace (H.A.W.) Tabor built the opera house in 1879 in just 100 days in one of the West’s rowdiest silver boomtowns. Today, in a town with no community center, no movie theater, and no formal performance spaces, the Tabor Opera House remains a much-needed cultural and community center. Yet this elegant building, deemed a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has been endangered by nearly a century and a half of long winters in North America’s highest-elevation city. It is now embarking on a multi-year, $10 million rehabilitation. Learn more and follow project progress at www.taboroperahouse.net and on Facebook.
The Horseshoe and Other Favorite TOH Stories
A lot has been written about The Tabor Opera House over the years. Here are a few favorites from the Leadville Today archives.