Work will begin Monday on a major roof repair project at the Goss Opera House building in downtown Watertown.
Much of the work will be on the interior as construction crews prepare the building for the July 22 arrival of a large crane, roof trusses and Enercept roofing panels.
The project will require the closure of parts of Maple Street between First Avenue South and Kemp Avenue.
The roof repair involves removal of the existing roof coverings and decking. New support beams will be installed and Enercept panels that will provide energy-efficiency to the historic building will form part of the roof with a new overlay.
The project is being coordinated by the Friends of the Goss Opera House, Inc, (FOG), a non-profit organization that acquired the building on Dec. 31, 2018.
“This is a major step for preservation of the building, and a key to making the second-floor theater an iconic regional destination,” said Milt Carter, FOG board president.
The roof work is the last major structural project needed to preserve the building, which first opened in 1889.
Hasslen Construction, a family owned construction company from Ortonville, MN, is the general contractor. The company was founded in 1893, four years after the Goss building opened. The company has experience in renovating historic buildings.
“Parts of this project are extremely complicated because of the age and the type of the roof that exists now,” said Jim Redlinger, a Friends of the Goss board member. “We needed a company like Hasslen Construction because of their historical section.”
Work will start on the south end of the Goss building which is at the corner of Kemp Avenue and Maple Street. It will progress to the north with a late September completion date.
The project will involve opening a small section of the roof and repairing it. Because of the sensitivity of the project, the roof must be covered up every night to prevent any weather-related damage to the theater.
“It is a tough project because we can’t expose too much of the building because of the wonderful storms that we have come through some evenings,” Redlinger said.
The roof project was necessitated after an engineering study discovered that two of the roof support-beams had cracked, causing damage to the theater. The cracking was attributed to the weight of many layers of additional roofing during the past 100 years as well as a sprinkler system that was hung off the roof when the building was renovated in 2008.
“The existing wood trusses will remain because they are built into the building’s walls,” Redlinger said. They will be sandwiched with new wood trusses provided by Cashway Lumber.
As each section is exposed new Enercept panels will be installed, allowing roof portions to quickly be closed. A rubber roof overlay will go on top of those panels.
Portions of the building, particularly the Coco and Finn retail store, will be open during the renovation. Repair work to the inside of the theater will be done after the roof is completed.
“Very shortly it is going to be obvious that a major downtown project is underway,” Watertown Mayor Sarah Caron said. “This is our community rallying together. The Goss is the anchor of our downtown and this is a community project in that it is a non-profit organization that owns the building. It is everyone working together. The excitement is contagious. The optimism and hopefulness from a project like this just spreads throughout the community.”