Fairmont Opera House Announces Roof Repair Project

    October 3rd, 2023

    Fairmont, MN — The Fairmont Opera House is launching a roof truss repair project to ensure the continued preservation and structural integrity of its historic facility.

    As the oldest operating theater in Minnesota, the Fairmont Opera House has been providing high-quality arts and entertainment to Fairmont and the surrounding communities for close to 125 years. The organization conducts ongoing building maintenance and evaluations with contracted engineers to maintain the facility’s structural integrity. Hammel, Green, and Abrahamson Engineering and Encompass Engineering Consultants and Forensic Analysts, two firms specializing in historic facilities, recently identified and confirmed that repairs to the roof’s truss system are needed due to age and weather impacts over time.

    While the roof truss system’s weight-bearing points underwent a repair in the early 2000s, the newly identified repairs will address other critical truss components and their structural supports.

    “This project is critical to maintain the viability of our organization and our facility,” said Blake Potthoff, Fairmont Opera House Executive Director. “We’re not just repairing a roof; we are ensuring that we can continue to provide arts and entertainment to Fairmont and the surrounding communities for generations to come.”

    The project is unfolding over several key phases:

    September – October 2023

    • Routine monitoring to ensure the building remains structurally sound over the next several months.
    • Temporary reinforcement measures will be installed to accommodate snow loads and maintain structural integrity during winter, which are necessary to complete the full scope of repairs.
    • Facility operations will be limited to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and patrons throughout construction. This will include facility closures as needed.


    • A capital fundraising campaign will be conducted to raise the funds necessary to complete the multimillion-dollar project.

    “This is not a decision that was made lightly,” said Bob Luedtke, Chair of the Fairmont Opera House Board of Directors. “After carefully reviewing all options, the Board has determined that this project is necessary for the long-term health of our organization.”

    The Fairmont Opera House has completed several capital improvements in recent years, made possible by the M. Milbrandt Estate, individual donations, and grant funds. These improvements include the renovation of the Footlight Lounge, acquiring adjacent property on Blue Earth Avenue for expanded accessibility and operations, and the replacement of the building’s southern fire escape.

    The new roofing project exceeds the organization’s current financial capacity, making a capital fundraising campaign necessary for work to begin. “This is a significant financial undertaking for our organization,” Luedtke added. “It will require a collective effort to keep the Fairmont Opera House a part of our community for years to come.”

    Project updates will be shared online at www.fairmontoperahouse.org, on social media, and via email as they become available. For those wishing to donate to the project, please visit www.fairmontoperahouse.org/capital-donate.