An opera house that was the center of the community in Thomas is seeing new life.
The restoration of Cottrill's Opera House hopes to re-establish its tradition of culture and entertainment.
Cottrill's Opera House was built in 1902. The goal is to once again make it a 425 seat facility for cultural and civic activities for Tucker County and its visitors.
"It started operation as an opera house or vaudeville as more people would understand it. When the silent movies came out, then it was changed over to the Sutton Theater and as been the Sutton Theater for much longer than it was quote "an opera house," said David Downs, president of the Cottrill Opera House.
The theater closed in 1972 and over the years it has housed stores, barber shops and apartments. Currently the lower part of the building is being used as office space which shows remnants found from the opera house. Much has been accomplished, but more has to be done.
"The roof is structurally sound, the foundation is sound and the rest has been a little more difficult in the last few years to raise money privately. There are some grants available to continue the restoration," Downs said.
Last year, the Tucker County Cultural District Authority was established. Its first focus is the completion of the opera house into a cultural center for the county, and continuing efforts to raise money for the renovation of the building.
"And their talking about raising bigger money. Their talking about doing a push for $350,000 capital money that could be used to leverage, because we always have to match grants, and we can go ahead and say we have $350,000 dollars raised locally will you help us," said Elaine George, of Alpine Heritage Preservation.
Thomas' Mayor Matt Quattro said the building can be used as a driving force for economic development.
This town is becoming an arts mecca, we have a lot of young people here and artists of different kinds. I think a performance type theater situation would be a big addition to the town," said Quattro.