Sharon Springs theater gets boost from matching grant

ContributedAn architectural rendering shows the design for a renovated Klinkhart Hall Arts Center in Sharon Springs. 

A local arts organization announced at the end of 2020 that it has matched a major grant and can move forward on revitalization plans.

The Klinkhart Hall Arts Center in Sharon Springs ended the year with an announcement, thanking its supporters for raising a $100,000 match for the National Grid’s Main Street Revitalization Program.

The match came as part of the hall’s Take-A-Seat Campaign, which “sold” seats in the historic theater for $1,000 each. Donors will receive engraved name plates on the seats they buy.

In a message to supporters, the center wrote that work will begin in the spring and thanked the supporters for matching a second grant for the project.

“It’s easy to ‘make the case’ for a renewed and revitalized Klinkhart Hall,” the message said. “It’s not so easy to put together the support needed to make the ‘case’ into a ‘project.’ But with the support of our communities — Sharon Springs and all those surrounding — not only has the case been made, but the project is on a sound footing. The year 2020 was difficult and trying for us all. We all know people who were affected directly and indirectly by the pandemic. Our state and our nation seemed overwhelmed and it was sometimes difficult to know where to turn or what to do.

“At Klinkhart, events were canceled, work was delayed — again and again — and fundraising seemed impossible. And yet, we continued to hear from people who told us to persist. We did, and they responded in kind, helping us raise more than double our previous end-of-year fundraising. Thanks to this extraordinary effort, we are now ready — finally — to begin work in 2021!”

According to Klinkhart website, the building opened in 1885 as a hardware store and also housed a post office and a tin shop. An opera house was constructed on the second floor and the name Klinkhart Hall originally only referred to the opera house, as opposed to the full building.

Tragedy struck the theater in 1911, when a fire gutted the inside of the building and Louisa Klinkhart was trapped in the building and killed while trying to retrieve the hall’s cash box. The building was turned into a Masonic Hall two years later.

According to the group’s website, the revitalized Hall will look a lot like its 1885 counterpart, especially on the facade, and Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson, an Albany architectural firm, has shaped the design to make the new Hall look as much like the old one as possible.

The project got a boost in 2018, when the state awarded the center a $720,000 grant.

The A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation and Adelphi Paper Hangings are among the groups that helped match the two grants.

Go to www.klinkharthall.org for more information.

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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