The ongoing renovation of downtown Watertown’s historic Goss Opera House will receive two major donations, including a matching one from an anonymous donor through the Watertown Area Community Foundation and another one from Reliabank.

The announcements were made during a special fundraising event inside the Opera House.

As for the anonymous donor, any donations made toward the renovation of the 130-year-old building, which includes a performance theater and the incoming Mavericks restaurant, from now through Dec. 31, the donor will match the donations up to $250,000.

The announcement was made by Charlie Ewalt, chairman of the WACF Board of Directors. Ewalt made the announcement during the special event held in front of about 100 people in the Goss theater.

Saying the WACF is proud to support the Goss’ renovation, Ewalt said, “It truly takes an entire community to do something this great as to what it being done in the Goss. Building momentum takes everyone working together.”

Right before Ewalt’s announcement, Reliabank Chairman David Johnson announced the bank would double its $125,000 contribution toward the Goss’ renovation, bringing the bank’s total Goss donation to $250,000.

With the renovation including the recently completed new roof as well as a new and efficient HVAC system, the project has seen much support, both monetarily to the tune of $2.85 million received in pledges as well as intense interest.

The renovation has even drawn the interest from South Dakota’s highest ranking elected official in Gov. Kristi Noem as well as her husband, South Dakota First Gentleman Bryon.

With both speaking, Gov. Noem said the Goss renovation is very important not just to Watertown but South Dakota due to the building’s ability to host a variety of events while also being a cultural landmark.

“This place is super special,” Noem said. “When we get this completed and across the finish line, it will add a lot of value.”

Noem added the Goss holds a special place for her family, being a jewel in a community where her mother, Corrine Arnold, and siblings live.

“My mom has been passionate about the Goss forever. You know when your mom cares about something you never hear the end of it,” Noem said. “Our entire family just thinks this is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for South Dakota and for Watertown. From the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate you being here. We appreciate you being willing to get behind this project and make sure we’re creating opportunities to keep the next generation right here in South Dakota.”

Renovations on the Goss are expected to be completed next spring.

As roof repairs on Watertown’s historic Goss Opera House have wrapped up and the adjacent one-block stretch of Maple Street has been reopened, it’s on to the next phase of renovation.

Although there is much work to be done, progress is quite evident on the restoration of the 130-year-old building anchored in downtown Watertown.

Many of the windows have been replaced and an upgraded HVAC system for much of the building is set to be operational sometime early next year.

The second-floor theater still retains its beauty and charm even under the cover of darkness, eagerly awaiting its next performance. That could come as soon as the spring.

“Springtime is our goal for reopening the entire building,” Friends of the Goss Executive Director Missy Sinner said Monday. “The work is going really smoothly.”

That’s not to say there’s a lack of activity outside of construction crew members.

In fact, business is booming at both Coco & Finn and Grace Dance Academy. Meanwhile, Mavericks Steaks and Cocktails is getting ready for its spring opening with its first and second-floor kitchens to cater to both its restaurant customers and guests for events such as weddings.

When the rest of the Goss building is deemed habitable, Coco & Finn will move slightly north to a space within the Goss facing Kemp Avenue. Sinner said other businesses have expressed interest in locating in the space Coco & Finn currently occupies on its Maple Street location.

Those businesses have been placed on a waiting list as FoG evaluates to see if any of those business would complement the existing businesses within the Goss.

“We’re wanting to make sure we have the right fit,” Sinner said.

When it reopens, Sinner and the FoG envision a building that will once again serve as an attractive destination for all ages. In addition to the businesses, the Goss could draw events such as concerts and performances.

“We want this to be a community space,” Sinner said. “I picture people ranging from grade school to those in their 80s and 90s to be able to enjoy the building. Our goal is for everybody to come and enjoy being in here.”

Guided tours can be scheduled by calling Sinner at 605-868-1556. Tours last roughly around an hour.

The Goss Opera House roof repair project is wrapping up ahead of schedule.

The large crane used for the project will be removed, opening the road once again at Maple Street between First Avenue South and Kemp Avenue.

The project was coordinated by the Friends of the Goss Opera House, Inc, (FOG), a non-profit organization that acquired the building on Dec. 31, 2018.

“We so appreciate the support and patience of our downtown neighbors as we work to revive Watertown’s last remaining opera house,” said Missy Sinner, FOG Executive Director. “This is a major step in preserving this iconic theater for our community to enjoy once again.”

Hasslen Construction, a family-owned construction company that specializes in historical buildings, completed the roof repair.

The project involved removing the existing roof coverings and decking. New support trusses sourced through Cashway Lumber were placed around the opera hall’s existing wood trusses. Enercept panels replaced sagging purlins and decking and provide energy-efficiency to the historic building. A Pro-Tec rubber roof overlay is the top layer of protection in preserving the integrity of the opera house.

As part of its mission to restore and sustain the Goss, the FOG has focused efforts on improving the energy efficiency of the historic building which first opened in 1889.

“We had an energy consultant evaluate the entire facility and make recommendations on what projects would have the best payback in terms of energy savings,” said Milt Carter, FOG board president. “The roof was certainly an area of opportunity. We now have 12 inches of insulation with an average insulation value of R-54 in the new Goss roof.”

Along with the roof repair, the boarded up windows of the third floor bank building event space have now been restored with new windows.

The Friends of the Goss will now be working on interior repairs and renovations, including a major overhaul of the building’s HVAC system as well as restoring the opera hall itself which sustained damage to the walls and ceiling as a result of the failing roof.

“We have come a long way on our journey to protect and preserve this unique treasure. The support of the community has been incredible,” said Sinner. “We have actually had to expand the scope of our restoration due to requests by the business community to utilize all spaces at the Goss. Given this excitement and demand, we will certainly work to accommodate our community’s need.”

Funding for the project has come from in-kind donations and funds raised as part of the “Light Up the Goss” capital campaign. Additional financial support is still needed before the doors to the Goss theater can open once again.

“We have been very pleased with the donations we have received to date, but still have some ways to go to complete our campaign,” said Carter. “One thing is for sure, we are doing this the right way, ensuring a bright future for the Goss theater for years to come.”

Mavericks Steak and Cocktails has signed a lease to locate in the Goss Opera House in downtown Watertown.

The restaurant group has experience in operating popular restaurants as well as providing banquet and event services.

“We are ecstatic that Mavericks will anchor the Goss for a long time,” said Friends of the Goss Opera House Executive Director Missy Sinner. “Mavericks will be an ideal fit for Watertown and the Goss.”

Mavericks has restaurants in Aberdeen and Deadwood and a new location opening in Saint Cloud, MN. It offers a large, varied menu consisting of locally raised beef, ribs, seafood, pasta, sandwiches and salads. A menu somewhat similar to the Aberdeen location is planned for the Goss.

“The board was especially impressed with Mavericks’ proven experience catering events,” Sinner said. “They know just what it takes to offer exceptional service to a restaurant full of guests, while simultaneously and seamlessly catering a large event in the Opera Hall,” citing the Mavericks Aberdeen location, which also caters for the Dakota Event Center which is operated by Lamont Companies.

Sinner will be the point of contact for interested parties looking to book their venue at the Goss and will assist guests through the whole experience, including collaborating with Mavericks for catering.

“We are very excited to be part of the Watertown community,” said Kraig Schlaht and Jeff Lamont, owners of Mavericks. “The Goss Opera House building is a unique venue with so much history and character. We’ve been impressed by the community support of the project, and we look forward to bringing great food and excellent customer service to the Goss and downtown Watertown.” “The Goss Opera House building presents a unique experience. We have watched the community rally behind this historic attraction. We know others are investing in downtown with projects that will significantly increase downtown traffic and we want to be a part of it.”

Mavericks was brought to the attention of the Friends of the Goss by the Watertown Development Company (WDC).

WDC Marketing Director Traci Stein said her group met with them in Las Vegas during the ReCon event that brings retail, hospitality and communities together.

“In the world of economic development and recruitment, months and sometimes even years can go by in persuading a prospect to locate to a community,” Stein said. “I had sent the Goss Request for Proposal to Mavericks several months ago and we have been communicating back and forth on it since.”

“They weren’t able to look into it much further until we met in Las Vegas during ReCon. There, we were finally able to discuss more details about it. Mavericks representatives came to tour the Goss and see if it would be a good fit for them. Turns out, it was. I am happy to hear Mavericks is ready to start,” Stein said.

Milt Carter, President of the Friends of the Goss Opera House said his group will work to modify the building’s heating and cooling system to enhance the public’s experience in the restaurant and theater, as well as making other necessary building improvements.

Mavericks plans to begin design work to meet its format, and a second banquet kitchen is planned for existing space on the second floor to enhance service for large groups.

Roof renovations, along with other work in the theater and the Mavericks restaurant area, are planned in the coming months. The new restaurant will open in the spring of 2020.

“Securing a qualified restaurant operator was one of our top priorities,” Carter said. “We have a big challenge ahead, but the community has responded, and the addition of Mavericks tells us that a lot of people believe in our mission.”

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.”

Thursday nights will get even more lively in downtown Watertown.

To go along with the weekly live music performances and other summer activities that make up Thursday Night Live, Friends of the Goss began offering public tours of the historic Goss Opera House, which is undergoing extensive renovations.

According to Kristen Henderson, marketing committee chair, FoG plans to offer at least two tours during each TNL event, likely starting at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at no cost to attendees.

The planned tours come after FoG saw about 50 people go through on tours of the Goss at this past Thursday’s TNL event.

“There’s definite excitement,” Henderson said Friday. “When people are on these tours, they’re just so grateful for the renewed energy and efforts going into saving and lighting up the Goss.”

Although the Goss is not expected to be fully operational until early next year, visitors have seen previews of what’s likely to come.

With FoG envisioning the historic building built in 1889 to have sustainable retail operations and a restaurant, visitors are already getting a good idea for the Goss’ potential with the presence of Coco & Finn. The clothing store has temporarily relocated to the Goss due to construction along U.S. Highway 212.

“I think with Coco & Finn being in there, people are thinking, ‘Oh, this would be great to have this retail location,’ or ‘Add another retail location here,’” Henderson said. “Of course, having a restaurant would be a big (thing).”

With each passing week, the final vision becomes a bit closer to reality. According to Henderson, work is being done on the bank building windows and renovating the buildings ground floor for retail space.

“That’s going to lends itself to a more grand staircase to enter the opera hall,” Henderson said.

Henderson said work has noticeably progressed.

“We’re starting to take the boards off the windows on the third floor in event space in the bank building,” she said. “That’s really starts to make a difference. Once we get the boards off, that just presents a much better picture of downtown Watertown.”

Henderson reiterated FoG’s plan to keep the public informed throughout the renovation process via regular updates through the media and postings on The Goss Opera House Facebook page and its official website

“We want the community involved,” she said. “We’re open to presenting to any service clubs or any organizations that are curious about what’s going on.”

This summer and fall will be busy ones for renovating the Goss Opera House.

According to Missy Sinner, executive director of the non-profit Friends of the Goss Foundation, several projects will soon be underway at the historic 130-year-old building in downtown Watertown.

Chief among those, and perhaps most notable to the public, is an $855,000 roof renovation. Sinner said the project is expected to start sometime between mid-July and mid-August and end between mid-October to mid-November.

“If it isn’t done, the building wouldn’t be able to sustain. It’s an absolute necessity that we fix it,” Sinner said Wednesday, adding the current roof poses no immediate danger.

In addition to fixing the roof’s structural deficiencies, Sinner said the renovation will add insulation, thereby hopefully decreasing the building’s utility bills.

“It is currently not insulated properly. We are trying to make the building as energy efficient as possible,” she said.

Sinner said FoG is also looking at other ways to reduce utility bills.

“Currently our utilities are sky-high. We’re doing an energy audit on the building. What we’re doing is kind of seeing where our problems lie and where we are losing energy out of the building in order to get the utilities a little bit more manageable,” she said.

In addition to the roof, Sinner said the bank building windows will be replaced to provide better insulation.

“I’m thinking in the next month or so you’ll kind of see some action with that,” she said.

Meanwhile, some action happened Wednesday night as the FoG launched its website

Website visitors can get an overview of the Goss renovation plans as well as the building’s history. Visitors can also donate to the capital campaign that is expected to ramp up shortly under the “Get Involved” tab.

A new logo has also been unveiled.

Ultimately, Sinner’s vision is for the Goss building to have sustainable retail operations and a restaurant. Any potential restaurant would be mostly independent of other Goss operations.

“They would operate their own restaurant and company,” Sinner said.

Although the building is not expected to be fully operational until next spring, Sinner said the building is currently seeing its share of business. That includes the clothing store Coco & Finn, which has been temporarily relocated from its building along U.S. Highway 212 due to the highway’s reconstruction.

Sinner said she’s also been renting out office space.

The Goss’ third floor will see operations begin in September for Grace Dance Academy.

“We definitely got some action going on as far as the office and retail space. I’m getting call after call for those,” Sinner said. “That’s really exciting to see people have interest in being in the Goss.”

Sinner said FoG is exploring adding some features to make the Goss an even greater attraction.

“We’d like to create a space people really enjoy spending a lot of time in,” she said.

Sinner said the goal is to have the Goss fully operational by March. She holds out cautious optimism for the building to be functional enough to hold an event such as a New Year’s Eve party.

Whenever the building opens, Sinner indicated that day will be a celebratory one for downtown Watertown.

“I personally feel the Goss is the engine of downtown. It’s such a massive building right in the heart of downtown. I feel that the sooner we get this up and going and operating in a consistent manner, the better it will be for all of downtown,” she said.

The Friends of the Goss Opera House foundation announced today that Jeff and Paula Orthaus and Don and Kelly Roby all of Watertown will serve as co-chairs of the foundation’s capital campaign, “Light up the Goss”.

The Friends of the Goss Opera House purchased the historic opera hall and associated historical bank building on Dec. 31, 2018, and have a mission to repair, revitalize, and re-open the opera house.

“We have been amazed by the community’s support for these efforts and are thrilled that Jeff and Paula and Don and Kelly will be helping lead this critical step of the process,” said foundation President Milt Carter.

The Friends of the Goss Opera House hosted numerous community feedback sessions and small group tours, gathering input as to how best use the Goss Opera House and its associated historical bank building in the future.

“We are committed to offering our community a unique event space for family and friends to gather,” said foundation Executive Director Missy Sinner. “We are working with the Watertown Development Company to bring in exceptional dining and retail options. We want a visit to the Goss to be a dining, entertainment, and shopping event you wish to share with all your out-of-town guests.”

With the support of a successful capital campaign, the foundation plans to complete a major roof repair and other upgrades to preserve the theater and make the entire facility more comfortable and useable.

“I think it is important that we preserve the Goss; an historical landmark in Watertown,” said campaign co-chair Don Roby. “It will serve as a key component in our revitalization of uptown Watertown.”


The Friends of the Goss expect to kick-off the quiet phase of their “Light up the Goss” capital campaign in early May.

“Paula and I believe the Goss is a unique asset to Watertown and is something that sets our city apart from others,” said co-chair Jeff Orthaus. “We anticipate the broad community will rally around making this historic theater gathering space it originally was envisioned to be by Charles Goss in 1889 when it first opened.”

Watertown businesswoman Missy Sinner is the new Executive Director of The Friends of the Goss Opera House non-profit foundation.

Sinner, a Watertown native has operated ML Portraits in downtown Watertown, just one block west of the Goss Opera House for the past 15 years.

No stranger to renovating historic buildings, she and husband Dustin own Structure Properties and completed the renovation of 7 S. Maple Street, bringing high-end apartments to downtown Watertown. The couple also own and manage Dustin Sinner Fine Art.

Sinner recently sold ML Portraits to Allison Stadheim and is excited to begin her next chapter as Executive Director of the Friends of the Goss Opera House.

“There is so much potential just waiting to be revealed at the Goss,” Sinner said. “I am excited to work with the community of Watertown and lead the Friends of the Goss Opera House as we create a premier art and entertainment venue for all to enjoy.”

Sinner also served on the Boys & Girls Club Capital Campaign; and has co-chaired the Festival of Trees and the United Way campaign. Sinner also is a member of the Watertown Development Company’s downtown revitalization committee.

The Friends of the Goss Opera House began its search for an Executive Director in early February and received applications from nearly 30 candidates from eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

“Our interview team was impressed by the depth of the candidate pool. We had an immense amount of talent to consider,” said foundation board member Kristen Henderson who led the search for the new Executive Director. “Missy’s combination of business experience, notable customer service, and proven creativity made her a standout.”

With an Executive Director now in place, the board will focus on identifying a qualified restaurant to lease space on the main floor of the theater building and to provide food service in the building.

The board soon will kick-off its capital campaign.

“We are excited to have Missy join our efforts and lead us through these very critical next steps,” said foundation board President Milt Carter. “Her proven experience and passion for Watertown will no doubt be valuable in the restoration and revitalization of this unique Watertown landmark.”

Nothing new on the Goss Building since its purchase by the non-profit group Friends of Goss on the last day of 2018?

Just wait.

Since then, the building’s new owners have been creating partnerships, developing business plans and preparing a capital campaign that will put the Goss on a solid financial footing and, hopefully, solidify its standings as the focal point of downtown Watertown.

Friends of Goss (FoG) recently began advertising for an executive director and is seeking requests for proposals from restaurants interested in setting up shop in the historical building.

Kristen Henderson, marketing committee chair, said FoG is pleased to have received at least 20 applications for the executive director’s position. Others may still apply, although Henderson said interviews will start sometime in early March.

“Hopefully we’ll have somebody in that position by April,” she said. “They will work to help us with the logistics of the capital campaign. And then as we move toward opening up the theater we’d like them to essentially run the business and fundraising operations for Friends of Goss.”

An important step for FoG is developing its statement of support that it will present to potential donors as part of its quiet fund-raising plan. The funds generated will assist FoG in paying for repairs to the building, which includes the Goss Opera House and the former bank building to the east.

“We’ll be testing the water and testing the market as to whether our goals are achievable and who we want to be reaching out to,” said Henderson, who is owner and general manager of Midwest Ag Supply in Watertown. “As we get through that then we’ll go more to the public, speaking to everyone and anyone.”

Assisting FoG is one of the best fundraisers in the country, Brian Bonde of Sioux Falls. Bonde specializes in not-for-profit fundraising and is an advanced certified fundraising executive, one of only 106 professionals worldwide to receive that designation from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

As for marketing, FoG has signed up with Caliber Creative of Sioux Falls, which also has worked with other Watertown businesses, including Prairie Lakes Healthcare System and Bramble Park Zoo.

Henderson said a reason Caliber Creative was chosen was that several of its staff members are northeast South Dakota natives who already had some type of experience with the Goss.

Caliber is currently building the Goss’s new website, and Henderson expects it to be ready around the middle of March.

“We’re going to have a pretty hefty website, which supports Friends of Goss with updates on the restoration project, fundraising and how that’s going, and timing, but still engages with the community so if anybody has any questions as to what’s going on with the Goss, they can long onto to our website.”

FoG has also been active within the community, speaking to focus groups on what expectations they have for the Goss. FoG members have even interviewed people new to the city who may not have any preconceptions about the building.

“It’s been open discussion and brainstorm sessions as to how the community wants to utilize the space,” Henderson said. “Of course, the restaurant feedback is what we’ve been given, but we’ve been hearing a lot of unique, boutique-type ideas for the retail area.”

In its request for proposals, FoG stipulated that the new Goss restaurant must offer consistent, high-quality food, unique flavors and a nice atmosphere. Another stipulation is that any applicants must be managed by someone with proven experience in the restaurant business.