(WPRI 12, By Annie Shalvey)
Newport’s historic opera house, which dates back to 1867, is about to undergo a major makeover.
Gov. Gina Raimondo helped kick off the building’s restoration Monday morning during a groundbreaking event.
The building, which overlooks the city’s Washington Square, closed back in 2010 and the hope is that it will reopen next year.
The theater is set to become a year-round performing arts center with a rooftop garden terrace.
Officials say the renovation will cost at least $14 million. A $4.2 million state grant from a 2014 voter-backed “bond measure” will help pay for the mostly privately funded project.
Raimondo said the renovation will create a number of jobs in the state.
“It’s going to get people to work right away rebuilding this gorgeous opera house – but also for years to come it will provide jobs in our tourism industry,” she said. “[It will] be really something we can be proud of here in Newport but also around the state.”
According to Raimondo, it is vital to have a thriving arts and culture sector in the state.
Construction on the opera house is set to begin in the spring. The building is slated to reopen in 2018.