Homestake Opera House installs new fire suppression system

Homestake Opera House gets a new fire suppression system
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT
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LEAD, S.D. (KOTA) - An historic building in Lead, which has been home to singing and acting for more than a century, recently had a new fire suppression system installed.

In 1984, the Homestake Opera House experienced a devastating fire. Due to a lack of funding, restoration didn’t start until 1998, initially focusing on the lobby and entryways of the building.

With the help of the Homestake Opera Society, funds were raised from private donors, non-profit organizations, and the City of Lead.

Now, with the successful installation of a fire suppression system, the Opera House is ready to raise the curtain on a successful future.

“If the art center starts on fire, then the theater will be okay. And if the theater starts on fire, the art center will be okay. The very first part is here on the alarms. Everybody exits the building. Then, when the heat rises, it triggers the sensors to start shutting off the sprinklers, things like that. We have monitors, we have cameras,” said Homestake Opera House development director Christine Allen.

The generator system pumps nitrogen through the pipes to different parts of the opera house.

“Different parts of the building are outfitted with what’s called the wet system, where there is water in the pipes that’s just waiting to go. But in some parts of the building, we can’t control the temperature, and you don’t want those pipes to freeze or burst in the cold, cold winters up here on the mountain, so there’s this nitrogen generator system,” said explained Homestake Opera House Executive Director Thomas Golden.

Renovation of the theater portion of the building is expected to start soon. In the meantime, people in the Black Hills can still enjoy events.

“It’s just really exciting to say, to come here, you’ll be safe, and we did it. After decades and decades, we did it. We’re finally here,” said Allen.

The fire suppression system cost about $1.5 million, a fraction of the $8 million needed to restore the entire building.