Our Link to the Past, Our Path to the Future: Revitalizing the C.L. Hoover Opera House

Our Link to the Past, Our Path to the Future: Revitalizing the C.L. Hoover Opera House Main Photo

17 Mar 2024

The C.L. Hoover Opera House in Junction City, Kansas, has long been a community cornerstone, offering a rich history of live performances, artistic expression, and community pride. Recently, the Opera House underwent a significant renovation to expand its facilities and better serve its community and youth organizations. Spearheaded by the husband and wife duo Joe and Sheila Markley, this renovation represents a new chapter in the Opera House's history, promising a brighter future for the arts in Junction City, Kansas.

Initially built in 1882 and rebuilt in 1898 after a catastrophic fire, the C.L. Hoover Opera House has been a fixture in Junction City for over 142 years. It began as a venue for live performances, hosting a variety of acts and events that brought the community together. In 1942, the theater transformed, becoming a movie theater and serving as a popular destination for moviegoers in the area until 1982. However, as times changed, so did the community's needs, and the theater eventually fell into disrepair.

In 2008, Junction City stepped in to save the historic theater. The city's intervention was a crucial turning point for the Opera House, reopening it to the public after a 26-year hiatus. Since then, the Opera House has been a hub of cultural activity in Junction City, hosting various performances and events that showcase the talents of local artists and entertainers.

Expanding Horizons: The Next Chapter

Before the renovation, the C.L. Hoover Opera House faced the challenge of accommodating all the groups that called the Opera House home. The success of its Fine Arts Academy, which included programs such as ASTRA (after-school, middle school theater program), Act One (grades 3-4 theater program), AIM (preschool program), Act Two (after-school high school theater program), and private lessons for all ages, had outgrown its facilities. To address this issue, the Opera House purchased the building adjacent to its complex at 131 West 7th Street and planned to incorporate it into its facilities.

This expansion provides many benefits to the Opera House and the community. Two additional rehearsal/meeting/event areas were added to serve the growing education programs. These include programs offered by the Opera House, the Junction City Little Theatre, and the Junction City Arts Council.

The Junction City Little Theater and Junction City Arts Council will have a first-floor storefront office that is easily accessible to everyone. A dedicated art studio space will be created to serve the graphic art needs of youth and adults, and a mini art gallery will be established on 7th Street.

The additional space will also allow for the relocation of dressing rooms closer to the stage, creating a larger, central space for a catering kitchen. The former kitchen space was also transformed into a "green room" close to the stage for performers and dignitaries. Overall, this expansion addresses the immediate space needs of the Opera House and creates new opportunities for growth and collaboration within the community.

A Brighter Future

The renovation and expansion of the C.L. Hoover Opera House was not just about creating more space; they were about revitalizing a historic landmark and ensuring its continued relevance in the community. By providing state-of-the-art facilities for its programs and partnerships, the Opera House is positioning itself as a leader in the cultural and artistic life of Junction City.

As Development Director Sheila Markley puts it, "This renovation is not just about expanding our facilities; it's about expanding our impact on the community. We want the Opera House to be where people of all ages can come together to learn, create, and be inspired. This expansion is a testament to our commitment to serving the community and ensuring that the arts continue to thrive in Junction City."

The Economic Benefits of the C.L. Hoover Opera House Expansion

The expansion of the C.L. Hoover Opera House represents a significant opportunity to create a more vibrant and welcoming space for the community of Junction City. Adding new facilities, including rehearsal/meeting/event areas, an art studio, and a mini art gallery, the Opera House can offer a broader range of programs and events catering to various interests and ages. This enhances the cultural and artistic offerings of the Opera House and provides a platform for local artists and performers to showcase their talents.

The expansion opens up new possibilities for collaboration and partnerships within the community. By providing space for organizations like the Junction City Little Theater and Junction City Arts Council to have a storefront office and dedicated areas for their activities, the Opera House becomes a central hub for creative endeavors in the area. This space fosters community and belonging as individuals and groups come together to participate in and support the arts.

In addition to its cultural impact, the expansion of the Opera House has the potential to drive economic growth in Junction City. By offering a wide range of programs and events, the Opera House attracts visitors from neighboring areas and beyond, boosting tourism and generating revenue for local businesses. This influx of visitors supports the Opera House and contributes to the community's overall vitality, creating a positive cycle of growth and prosperity.

Join Us for the Ribbon Cutting of the Munson Arts Education Building at the C.L. Hoover Opera House

The Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce invites you to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Munson Arts Education Building at 131 W. 7th Street on Tuesday, March 19th, at 4 pm. Before the ceremony, the Opera House will offer tours from 10 - 11 am, complete with coffee and donuts. Tours will continue with light refreshments after the ribbon cutting until 6 pm.

The Junction City-Geary County Economic Development Commission Can Help

For more direction or help connecting with resources, reach out to JC-GCEDC today. The region is growing, the economy is booming, and there is room for additional businesses to expand here. Our strategic location, paired with skilled labor and an actively pro-business climate, are assets for any company, but especially for our target industries. Explore our full array of tools for site selectors here and contact us at 785-762-1976 or edc@jcacc.org.

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