King Opera House renovation

The proposed front of the King Opera House drawn by Ottumwa architects C, A & D. Notice the permanent awnings, the arched doorway and the movie poster display.

A preliminary architectural drawing of the front of the King Opera House plus interior drawings of the immediate interior of the building were delivered late last week to Dave Johnson and the Albia Area Improvement Association and the King Opera House Board by C, A & D Architectural firm from Ottumwa.

“Nothing is set in stone,” said Johnson. “We want to get the theater board’s reaction before we move forward.”

The King Opera House Board meets Wednesday, but most members have seen the drawings and are universally positive.

“It takes a couple of minutes looking at the front of the building to warm up to it because it includes permanent awnings,” said King Opera House Board President Dave Paxton. “Then you see why the awnings were included, adding three-dimension to an otherwise flat front and you really start warming to the idea.”

The front also includes a light brown sandstone trim running horizontally across the building, top middle and bottom and the big arched doorway with five circular stained glass windows making it look very much like the original 1903 building.

The biggest changes inside will be walking through the arch and seeing the ceiling raised to match the high ceiling in the foyer to the auditorium.

“The architect had to raise the ceiling (moving the HVAC to a space above the new restrooms) to make it possible to rebuild the arched entrance.

The room to the immediate left used for make-up and a bit of storage, will be converted into men’s and women’s restrooms, accessible from the foyer of the auditorium. A second set of restrooms has been designed to serve the balcony and will be in the former apartment to the building.

The concession stand (which has already been partially remodeled) will be enlarged. The current women’s bathroom will be removed to enlarge the concession stand and the janitor’s room next to the women’s bathroom will be converted to a family restroom.

The auditorium will seat around 350 on the main floor and another 70 to 100 upstairs depending on a structural engineer’s final report.

Discussion for Phase II has already started with talk of removing the current carpenter’s room and garage on the north back of the auditorium and constructing a two-story (in height) wood construction addition to hold set, dressing rooms and carpentry. That addition was not included in this set of drawings.

Removal of the white porcelain bricks should begin any time. The masonry work on the front, including the new arch, along with the remodeling of the immediate south interior of the building will await cost estimates and bids.

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