Goss Opera House booking events again after renovation and pandemic

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 8:16 PM CST
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Goss Opera House has been a staple in Watertown for over a century. But it’s taken a lot of time, money, and patience to be able to get it back in shape, something Friends of the Goss Opera House Treasurer Brad Johnson said has been a long one, but they had plenty of help along the way.

“We had an extraordinary response from the community. I would guess about 200 have donated to our project and allowed us in the last year renovate the remaining part of this building.” Johnson said.

In total, around eight million dollars went into the renovation of the building, with a majority of it raised by the non-profit organization Friends of the Goss. The project touched almost every square inch of the building; from it’s roof, down to it’s piping and wiring. And Friends of the Goss Board Member Missy Sinner said that most of that work began before the funding was even secure.

“We actually were raising funds simultaneously while the construction had started. So while the roof renovation was taking place, we were raising funds for what we were going to do inside.” Sinner said.

But both said it was well worth the wait and effort, as the building is a large piece of history in the city of Watertown.

“This building takes us to our past. It connects us to the people who founded our community and our state.” Johnson said.

What they didn’t plan on, however, was a global pandemic. The renovations were in their final stages at the onset of the pandemic in March, which hampered construction as well as the timeline for completion. And it also threw into doubt what the building would be able to host when it finally opened back up, a feeling that Friends of the Goss Executive Director Jamie Mack said was one that blindsided them.

“We were so excited to get these jobs, you know. It’s kind of a dream job I would say, getting to work in the Goss. And we got in, we were just getting ready to get going. And then everything kind of shutdown and pulled back on us.” Mack said.

Both Mack and Events Coordinator Jen Pendley had started while renovations were ongoing, and were unsure of what they’d be able to host this past Fall. But as vaccines have started to rollout across the state, and as cases of COVID-19 continue to fall, events have began to be scheduled for the new year. And they’re ready to show off what’s been done to the building.

“It’s really come alive again. And so we’re excited that we’ll be part of that, with opening the doors back up.” Pendley said.

While the Opera House is still being used for concerts and performances, renovated rooms and other areas can host a wide range of events. But more importantly to all the staff and members at Friends of the Goss, they’re ready to reintroduce the Goss to Watertown, and hope to see 2021 as a year where the community can take full advantage of the historic building.

“We just can’t wait to bring people from the community in here again. You can tell that people are really ready to get out and experience things, and to do things again. And we’re so excited to show the Goss off to them.” Mack said.

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