Goss Opera House reaches fundraising goal

After nearly two years of planning and fundraising, Friends of the Goss are set to realize the full vision of renovating downtown Watertown’s iconic Goss Opera House.

FoG officials announced this week that, thanks to the efforts and contributions of hundreds of individuals and organizations, including an anonymous donor who contributed $500,000 via two matching grants, the non-profit organization has surpassed its $4.75 million capital campaign goal to renovate the Goss Opera House.

“I’m totally amazed and gratified the Watertown community has stepped up and helped save the Goss,” FoG Board of Directors President Milt Carter said.

The non-profit FoG organization anticipates the Goss will be a regional attraction designed to host many events, including weddings, concerts and other entertainment acts.

“The Goss is a big part of our community’s desire to really get our downtown going,” Capital campaign co-chair Don Roby said. “I think its uniqueness is going to draw some different acts and a wide variety of entertainment options to downtown.”

Roby served as capital campaign co-chair along with his wife, Kelly, and Jeff and Paula Orthaus.

Although the grand reopening has been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the successful capital campaign marks a bright spot in what has been a bleak month around the nation and world.

“It’s a nice piece of big news amidst all of the disarray we’ve been going through in the world,” Roby said. “This really was a community-wide effort. Whatever your level of donation was — every dollar of your donation went into the budget — you’re a friend of the Goss. I think the support has been outstanding.”

According to FoG Executive Director Missy Sinner, the pandemic has pushed back the Surfin’ Safari concert to Sept. 4 and canceled the South Dakota Symphony Stained Glass Series opening concert at the Goss.

At this point, Sinner said the pandemic has delayed the Goss’ reopening indefinitely and led to measures to limit construction workers’ potential exposure to the virus.

“We’re really just going to wait and see how long all of this goes for” before scheduling an opening date, she said.

Whenever the Goss is reopened, Sinner believes the wait will be worth it.

“When we do open the doors, it will be a big day of celebration. Not only because we have met our goal and construction is done, but also because the community will be able to come out and enjoy it,” she said. “It’s just going to make it that much more exciting to finally get to open the doors and entertain people again.”