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Arts & Life

Art Instructor Helps To Restore Opera House


Built nearly a century ago, the Homestake Opera House in Lead was the center of community life providing residents a social meeting place for operas, theatre performances, concerts and other cultural activities. A fire in 1984 destroyed much of the theatre and roof, however, the integrity of the building remained. Since then, community members have worked to bring the Opera House back to the grandeur of its early years - a goal that Black Hills State University art instructor Erica Merchant is helping to make a reality. Merchant has spent several months restoring the intricate details of wall panels surrounding medallions in the opera house’s foyer. She started the process in April with the help of Dean Kalamos, a master painter from Washington, D.C., who works as a lead decorative painter at the Library of Congress. Under Kalamos’s guidance, Merchant helped recreate the motif which was repeated around the foyer. In addition to her work over the summer, Merchant has recently been commissioned by the Historic Homestake Opera House Society to recreate two paintings from the 1946 medallion themes, including a Lion and Ram. These medallions were part of the original 1914 theme and remained prominent fixtures until the fire.