City of Leadville purchases historic Tabor Opera House | AspenTimes.com

City of Leadville purchases historic Tabor Opera House

Staff report

The historic Tabor Opera House has been purchased by the city of Leadville, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced this week.

An integral building in the Leadville National Historic Landmark District and a National Trust for Historic Preservation designated National Treasure, the theater was purchased from owner Sharon Bland. The completion of the sale signifies an important step for the future rehabilitation of the opera house as a year-round asset to the Leadville community.

Considered to be "the most perfect place for amusement between Chicago and San Francisco" when it was built in 1879 by mining tycoon Horace Tabor, the Italianate Tabor Opera House boasts 25,000 square feet of space and a 650-seat theater at the end of Leadville's main street. During its long life, this beloved local icon played host to Oscar Wilde, Harry Houdini and Judy Collins. Tabor lost the building to the 1893 Silver Crash, and it was eventually sold to the Elks in 1901. It was saved from demolition by Bland's mother, Evelyn Furman, in 1955, and has operated as a seasonal entertainment venue ever since.

"Leadville's commitment to the preservation of its historic resources helps ensure that this community stays vibrant and strong," Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement. "This is an important step in ensuring the future of this iconic Leadville landmark. Other communities across the country can learn from how Leadville is turning its historic assets into engines of prosperity for all of its residents."

Designated a National Treasure in February 2016, the National Trust has worked with the City of Leadville, Leadville Lake County Economic Development Corporation, History Colorado and developer Dana Crawford to create a sustainable future for the opera house. Over the next few months, a market and use feasibility study for the opera house will be undertaken. Supported by a National Trust grant through the Hart Family Fund, the planning documents will be used to guide a successful building rehabilitation and reactivation of the storied theater.

"This year, the City of Leadville embarked on a bold journey to purchase and restore the Tabor Opera House," Leadville Mayor Greg Labbe said. "On Nov. 11, we saw the culmination of our hard work and grant requests for the acquisition phase of the project with awards from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, History Colorado, El Pomar Foundation, Boettcher Foundation and Gates Family Foundation. This continues to be an exciting time in Leadville as we proudly create a beautiful and historic community event venue."

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To learn more about the Tabor Opera House visit: savingplaces.org/places/tabor-opera-house.

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