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franklin county times

One step closer

By Staff
RENOVATION n A computer rendering shows how the inside of the Grand Opera House will appear after renovations are complete. Computer rendering courtesy of MSU-Starkville
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Jan. 14, 2001
Concertos and cantatas could be resounding from inside the halls of The Grand Opera House as early as 2004, according to Mississippi State University officials.
Officials at MSU have taken ownership of the structure and have already collected $26 million for renovation. The next step will be to obtain $5 million for an endowment fund to be used for maintenance and upkeep.
Norment speculated that the fund-raising goal could be completed within weeks, perhaps as early as the middle of February.
The plan to restore The Grand Opera House to its original grandeur includes turning a portion of the facility into a 38,000 square-foot arts and educational facility for use by students at MSU and Meridian Community College. The project also calls for renovation of the Marks-Rothenberg building and construction of a 500-car parking garage adjacent to the opera house.
Norment says once the endowment fund is collected, MSU officials expect to move quickly in settling on a renovation plan and hiring architects to begin design proposals.
Although restoration and maintenance funds are both nearly complete, Norment said MSU officials are still in the process of trying to obtain annual funding for the operation of the opera house.
With the state facing a tight budget in the next few years, Norment admits getting the funding may not be easy. He hopes when the project needs the money in three years the state's budget will be in better shape.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.