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December 13, 2010 06:55 PM

Black Hills Playhouse Going From Old To New

Custer, SD

The conditions were so poor at the Black Hills Playhouse, state officials declared it a "threat to human safety."

When the state inspected the more than 60-year-old playhouse, they found it needed quite a few repairs. A new sprinkler system, septic system and some of the old buildings just needed to be demolished.

They've been standing since the 1930s. But their time has come.

"We’re taking the buildings down, all the old buildings, the old CCC buildings that were such an eyesore," President of the Black Hills Playhouse board of directors, Jerry Wheeler, said.

Wheeler said the campus already looks better. Earlier this year, the Playhouse and state had filed lawsuits against one another after the state terminated its 10-year lease. But then lawmakers gave the theater until the end of 2012 to make repairs. So instead of fighting with the state, they're now working with them.

"It was our job to clean them out and take everything out of them and we did that and then the state volunteered to go ahead and take the buildings down," Wheeler said.

He said once the state has six of the old buildings in piles, they'll wait for a good snow and burn them. And while they're estimating more than one million dollars for the renovation, the demolition is quite cheap.

"Just to knock them down and burn them, there's not a lot of expense. You know, we incurred some getting ready and they're going to incur some," Wheeler said

It might be demolition going on right now, but it's actually more construction that they're looking forward to in the future.

"We'll have to build a couple new buildings and we have a lot of things we got to repair on the theatre," Wheeler said.

But he says once the work is done, it will be worth it.

"I think when we get the theatre put back the way it should be and the new buildings, it's gonna be great," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said they hope to be back in the playhouse this coming summer.
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