Groups Working to Save Wynne Opera House

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 12:00 am  

The Wynne Opera House, built in 1900, is on the 2013 list of Arkansas’ Most Endangered Places. 

Historic preservation groups are working to restore the dilapidated Wynne Opera House, which is on the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas’ 2013 list of Arkansas’ Most Endangered Places.

Built in 1900, the Opera House is missing most of its roof, and “the second floor is basically gone,” said Martin Smith, a member of the Wynne Downtown Revitalization Committee, which along with the Cross County Historical Society is working to save the building.

“We found a suitable use and a potential owner … who is interested in acquiring the property and turning it into a production-type theater,” Smith said.

Smith said a theater group, led by Matthew Overturf, a performing arts teacher at Wynne High School, has expressed interest in acquiring the property from its owner, Jeff Morris Jr., whose address couldn’t be confirmed. Neither Overturf nor Morris could be reached for comment.

Smith said Overturf is forming a nonprofit organization to attain the two-story brick building. “So we’re really just working on the phase of the acquisition of the property,” Smith said.

He didn’t have a timetable for when the transfer of ownership would occur.

“For the last 40 years, very little has been done to the building,” according to the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas’ profile on the property. “The building retains some interesting historic elements, including cast iron storefront columns. However, because the building is open to the elements, it is deteriorating quickly.”

Smith said money from grants could be used to restore the building. “We’re trying to swing the movement to allow the community to see that the structure is still of value,” he said.



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