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Work will soon start on Bent’s Opera House

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 August 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Contractors are expected to begin stabilizing the corner of the Bent’s Opera House later this month. The three-story building was built during the Civil War in 1864.

MEDINA – It was about a year ago when the owner of the Bent’s Opera House realized the 150-year-old structure was in danger due to a rotted structural support beams on the southeast building.

To buy time, the Orleans Renaissance Group hired Matthews House Movers in Rochester to install “cribbing” as a temporary support so the rotted beams could be removed and the new supports installed. That more permanent solution will soon be under way.

The building was compromised after renovations in the 1930s and 1970s. First-floor masonry walls were removed. Those walls originally defined three distinct storefronts and helped support the two stories of the stone above, said Chris Busch, vice chairman for the ORG.

The original wooden beam also decayed due to water infiltration. ORG will replace the decayed section of the wood beam with new steel. The organization will also reconstruct the missing masonry walls from footers below the basement up to the beam that supports the second- and third-story stone façade, Busch said.

ORG will also have a contractor use new mortar to rebuild and repoint some of the existing stone. The projects could be done by the end of the year.

The Orleans Renaissance Group secured a $100,000 emergency loan from the Preservation League of New York State to address the main structural support timber on the building’s southeast corner.

“Upon engineering assessment, the necessary work that needed to be completed was greater than was initial thought,” Busch said. “It was absolutely critical that these deficiencies were addressed immediately.”

ORG already has plans for Phase 2 at Bent’s. That will include restoration of the original three storefronts using decorative cast-iron columns and cornice. The Village Planning Board approved a certificate of appropriateness for that work last week.