Keeping the historic organ in the Round Lake Auditorium dry is a good idea for its preservation.
So the village is seeking bids for a new roof on the auditorium, and will consider borrowing up to $200,000 to pay for that and other capital needs in the village.
A program tentatively approved Wednesday by the Village Board includes replacing the aging and leaking roof on the unique 123-year-old building, and also painting the outside.
The roof repairs and painting will help protect the 1847 Ferris tracker above the auditorium’s stage, where choirs of 300 once performed for summer revival attendees.
The organ is so unusual and historically significant it has attracted the interest of the National Park Service, which last week sent two representatives to see the organ, as part of the process that could lead to National Landmark status for the building.
The auditorium, built in 1885, was originally used for the religious revival meetings that were the community’s founding purpose. While the whole village is on the National Register of Historic Places because of its concentration of Victorian residential architecture, the auditorium is the last institutional building left from that era.
The auditorium has remained at the center of civic life, with concerts and performances every summer.
The massive old barn-like building deteriorated for many years, with the village lacking money for repairs. But in 2004 the village received federal and state grant money, and was able to spend $439,000 to repair the stone and wood foundation and otherwise stabilize the structure.
For lack of money, that project didn’t replace the roof, although it was known the roof needed work.
Mayor Dixie Lee Sacks said the village now has $83,000 in a park fund that can be tapped to help pay for the roof, and will also take up to $15,000 for the roof from the planned bond issue, if needed.
Painting the building is expected to cost between $50,000 and $70,000.
The board on Wednesday authorized seeking bids, with plans to award the bids on Aug. 6. The board would have to formally award contracts and also authorize the borrowing, but Sacks said she’s anxious to begin work soon.
“All this is summer work,” she said.
In addition to the work at the auditorium, other projects covered in the bond issue include new gas furnaces and air conditioning for the village hall, and adding a new bay on the village garage to replace a storage barn so old it’s at risk of collapse. The public works department will also receive a new plow-equipped pickup truck.
Sacks said the village will also be refinancing an existing $32,000 in debt. By borrowing the $200,000 over seven years, she said there won’t be an increase in village taxes.
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