Announced at the 2023 Preserve Iowa Summit, the Brooklyn Opera House received the Margaret Keyes Award from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
This award recognizes outstanding preservation of a large historic preservation project using State Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program incentives. For purposes of this award, large projects were defined as those projects having total qualified rehabilitation costs of more than $750,000.
“We thank the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the State Historic Preservation Office for this recognition,” said Laura Manatt, General Manager of the Brooklyn Opera House. “The renovation of this historic building would not have been possible without the support of the state and programs like the State Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. Public-private partnerships enabled this venue to return to its full potential and once again serve as a cornerstone of the community for generations to come.”
Built in 1911, this once-thriving entertainment venue in the small town of Brooklyn was listed in 2014 as one of Iowa’s most endangered historic buildings. In that year, Brian and Laura Manatt spearheaded an effort to rehabilitate the property.
“This award and the revitalization of the Brooklyn Opera House would not have been possible without our partners at Neumann Brothers and their incredible expertise in renovating historic buildings,” said Brian Manatt, Board President of the Brooklyn Opera House. “We also want to thank Jennifer Irsfeld James, Architectural Historian and Historic Preservation Consultant, for her expertise in researching and writing about history, architecture and design as we navigated historic tax credits and the National Registry of Historic Places.”
The rehabilitation work, led by Neumann Brothers, included extensive interior and exterior repair, sensitively designed life-safety improvements, new building systems and the construction of a one-story addition to connect the opera house and the adjacent community center. With a sidewalk level entrance, the addition provides accessibility to the auditorium and to the stage with ADA-compliant lifts. Connection to the community center provides overflow space for a waiting area, concessions and additional restrooms.
Today, the live venue/movie theater/events space retains its original splendor and has been a catalyst for new downtown business improvements, including rehabilitation of a nearby bank built in 1908.
Read more about this prestigious award here.