Delphi Opera House

Delphi, Indiana

Project Type

KJG had the privilege of working with the Delphi Preservation Society over a period of seven years to make the dream of restoring the historic Assion-Ruffing Opera House located on Delphi’s Courthouse square a reality.  Constructed in 1865 by two local merchants, the Opera House’s first event celebrated the return of the 86th Indiana Volunteers from the Civil War.  The Opera House, located on the third floor, was closed in 1914 due to concerns of fire safety, and space sat unused and neglected for the next 82 years until it was purchased by the Delphi Preservation Society. 
KJG’s first involvement with the project was conducting a structural analysis of the three-story building in 2006 and then developing schematic design options in 2007 for the proposed renovation.  Thanks to a Stellar Grant and dozens of generous benefactors, the Delphi Opera House Restoration received the necessary funding, plans were completed in 2012, and the facility opened in 2014. 
The Opera House space on the third floor was kept to its original design while restoring all of the finishes.  Even the original balcony and the sets of narrow stairs leading to the third floor were maintained, although reinforced to meet current code.  A new entrance, ticket office, and art gallery were added on the first floor of the building, and a new grand stairway was built to allow guests to reach the second floor and then proceed to the Opera House via the original staircases.  While it was important to maintain the historic elements of the Opera House, modern necessities and conveniences were added thanks to a 3 story addition on the rear of the building.  This addition provides room for necessities such as an elevator, two fire-rated stair towers, restrooms, fire sprinkler room, and mechanical/electrical rooms and also provided space for conveniences such as a concession stand, banquet room, and green room adjacent to the stage. 
The efforts of the Delphi Preservation Society and KJG’s design team brought back to life an iconic building that now boasts a bustling schedule of civic events and entertainment (see: