O.P.E.R.A. Inc. has exceeded its $40,000 fund-drive goal for 2020, raising a total of $40,100 to help pay for reconstruction of the west half of the Ellendale Opera House's north wall.

A total of $20,100 in donations was contributed by more than 50 donors since June 26. Combined with a dollar-for-dollar match up to $20,000 from anonymous supporters, O.P.E.R.A. will receive a total of $40,100.

The charitable non-profit organization kicked off its Phase I capital campaign, "Building Our Future & Preserving Our Past," in September 2018 and has raised nearly a third of $560,000 needed for overall building improvements aimed at returning the historic landmark back to use.

However, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began this spring, the rear northwest wall of the building developed serious cracks in the brick masonry.

An assessment by an architect and a structural engineer determined immediate work was needed to add support to the building's northwest corner. That work, costing nearly $50,000, was completed in April.

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Additional investigation of the building determined the west portion of the north wall needs to be replaced. The cost of that work is now estimated at between $160,000 to $180,000.

"We're indebted to the many Opera House supporters for their contributions over the years and especially to donors who gave money during this difficult economic time," said Justin Meidinger, executive director of O.P.E.R.A.

Meidinger said the O.P.E.R.A. Board has been notified it has been approved for a $50,000 grant and a $130,000 low-interest loan from the USDA Rural Development agency for repair of the rear wall.

"We're now working to finalize the bid documents and put the project out for bid," he said.

Anyone who would like to contribute to the opera house renovation can mail a donation to O.P.E.R.A. at P.O. Box 334, Ellendale, ND 58436 or give online at www.ellendaleoperahouse.com (click on the "Donate" button).

O.P.E.R.A. is a charitable non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

For additional information, call 701-535-0347 or email jmmeid@hotmail.com.