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A building was constructed in 1878 that recognized the harmony of day-to-day community operations and the arts. The beautiful brick-and-mortar construction was home to the Sandwich City Hall and the Sandwich Opera House. The City Hall occupied the first floor, while the Opera House operated and performed on the second floor.
Over the years, the building began to experience a decline in usage as outside facilities took over many of the activities held at the Opera House, and the city departments grew into new locations. In 1979, a need to save the building arose. Residents created the Association to Restore City Hall (ARCH) and immediately went to work. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and extensive restoration and renovation began.
The historic landmark re-opened on April 12, 1986, and the building operated once again as a community-oriented facility. With the restoration came a return of the community theatre and various performances and other uses.
As expected with a 144-year-old historic building, the exterior brick is deteriorating. In early 2022, Sandwich Opera House (ARCH) applied for both a Community Needs Grant and a Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund Grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation. The requests produced a combined $17,500 in support from the two grant programs.
“Without support from organizations such as the Community Foundation and their supporters, the Sandwich Opera House and similar facilities would not be able to continue to provide arts and entertainment to the Sandwich area.” ~ Jeffry Ellis, Treasurer, Sandwich Opera House
The brick restoration and replacement was completed in November 2022. What was once crumbling and cracked is now smooth and safe, allowing patrons to enter and leave the building safely. Thanks to donor generosity to Community Impact Funds and the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund, the Sandwich Opera House (ARCH) has received over $140,000 in grants since 2000. Grants supported a variety of purposes and projects, including:
- Replacement of the damaged or outdated lightboard and audio equipment ($4,350)
- Repair and restoration of theatre seating ($15,000)
- Replacement and restoration of windows ($15,000)
- Assistance with updating restroom facilities ($8,000)
- Replacement of stage curtains and addition of water heaters to areas ($10,000)
- And more!
Thank you, donors, for making grants like these possible!
Together, with the support of our donors, the DeKalb County Community Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in DeKalb County. Grants from the Community Foundation come from a variety of grant programs. Each program is unique in how to apply, who it supports, and the impact it creates. So how do these grants impact the community in which we live? Explore more stories of impact from grantmaking!
Pictured: The Sandwich City Hall & Opera House is a beautiful historic landmark in DeKalb County.