Construction crews removed the scaffolding from the Tabor Opera House last week, revealing to Harrison Avenue onlookers the repaired exterior facades of the famed building for the first time since construction began in May 2020.

Although the scaffolding removal does not mark the end of phase one of the project, Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation (TOHPF) President Jenny Buddenborg said brick repair on the south and front-facing facades is complete, totaling about $1.5 million.

Next spring, the joint venture of construction crews, which is led by Heritage A&M, will complete phase one of the project, which was originally slated for completion this month. The remainder of phase one work includes storefront column repair and painting of the “ghost signs” on the south-facing exterior.

According to Buddenborg, the ghost signs are advertisements that businesses painted on the side of the Tabor Opera House during the 19th century. There are three ghost signs that will be painted to their original glory, including Anheuser-Busch and cigar advertisements.

Funding for phase one of the project was provided by a several entities, including an $830,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service and a contribution from the City of Leadville.

With cold weather quickly approaching, Buddenborg said the TOHPF is shifting focus to fundraising. Buddenborg added that the foundation is hoping to raise $1.3 million by the end of the year to fund phase two of the restoration project. So far, TOHPF has secured $50,000 from the Gates Family Foundation and has asked  the Colorado State Historical Fund and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for additional funds.

Phase two of the project includes more brick repair on the building’s north and east-facing facades. Buddenborg added that later on crews will undertake painting the storefront cornices, but TOPHE does not yet have funding for that project.

“We are really excited to see this project coming along as the scaffolding is removed and people can see the progress,” said Buddenborg. “The building looks great, but there is still a lot to be done and a lot of money to be raised.”

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