This month\u2019s Mercer Savings Bank Giving Mission recipient is the Fort Recovery Friends of the Opera House.The group\u2019s purpose is to restore the historic Fort Recovery Morvilius Opera House to its former glory and create a gathering space for community events.History of the Opera HouseAfter the Civil War, it was popular for small communities to have an opera house \u2014 a home not only for music and theater, but a community gathering space for lectures, high school commencement ceremonies, book clubs, sporting events, wedding receptions, and more.Fort Recovery\u2019s opera house was built in 1883 on the top floor of a commercial storefront. It changed hands several times before being purchased by its namesake, Russell Morvilius, a local grocer. His daughter Fay was a singer who grew up to tour in Europe and the United States, and she was one of the many performers at the opera house.The Fort Recovery Opera House, circa 1909. Falling into DisrepairOpera houses fell out of fashion when other forms of entertainment, such as movies, became popular. As more people owned automobiles, they could drive longer distances for entertainment \u2014 making the local opera house less necessary.By the 1930s, nearly all community events in Fort Recovery took place at the newly built high school gymnasium. And in 1939, it closed its doors for good.The building sat untouched for more than 80 years, despite a few efforts to restore it, before the Friends of the Fort Recovery Opera House formed in 2020.\u201cThe groups that tried to restore it prior to us just realized what a massive undertaking it would be,\u201d said president Karen Meiring.\u201dSo this time, we decided if we didn\u2019t do it now, it would fall into disrepair and never be able to be saved\u2026it was kind of do or die for us.\u201dFuture PlansSo far, the group has raised about half its goal of more than $2 million. Meiring said much progress has been made in the two years since she joined the group, but there\u2019s still plenty to do.The building contains beautiful architecture and artwork \u2014 including some that has yet to be uncovered \u2014 but it also came with plenty of challenges. A new floor, new ceiling, updated HVAC systems, electricity, and more are needed. Furthermore, Meiring said the group wants to ensure the building will be accessible for everyone, necessitating a new annex with restrooms and an elevator.\u201cWe’re pushing this as a community gathering place, a functional place,\u201d said Meiring. \u201cWe don’t want it to be a museum.\u201dThe goal is for the opera house to be completely remodeled in another two years, although supply chain challenges have slowed the process down. Still, Meiring is hopeful the progress will stay on schedule and provide another complement to Fort Recovery\u2019s already-rich history.\u201cThere’s just really a sense of pride in Fort Recovery, that people are willing to donate to things like this,\u201d she said. \u201cThis is something else for the community to be really proud of.\u201dLearn More About the Fort Recovery Opera HouseMeiring said the Mercer Savings Bank Giving Mission funds will be used to restore the plaster ceiling, which is the first big step toward bringing the building up to code.\u201cWe\u2019ve been anxious to get the physical process started, and this money will definitely help with that,\u201d she said.Those interested in learning more about the opera house\u2019s restoration \u2014 and seeing updates on its progress \u2014 can visit the group\u2019s website. Donations can also be made online via the site.