Friends of the Goss announces to buy historic buildings

The Friends of the Goss Opera House non-profit foundation has entered into an agreement to purchase Watertown’s historic downtown theater.

The foundation, which was formed earlier this year, has the goal of making the Goss Opera House buildings a major South Dakota attraction.

The foundation’s 11-member board includes representatives from Lake Area Technical Institute, the Watertown Development Company, the Watertown Area Community Foundation, EXCITE 21-40, the creator of the Save the Goss GoFundMe initiative and local business leaders.

 “The expansion of our board to include individuals who bring a diverse set of experiences and perspectives is the first of many steps on our path to purchase and revitalize the historic Goss Opera House,” said Foundation Board President Milt Carter, CEO of CSS Farms.

“We want the Goss to be the cornerstone of our community and our downtown,” he said.

The expanded board recently approved the purchase of the Goss Opera House and its associated liquor license. The liquor license transfer to the foundation likely will come before the Watertown City Council at its Oct. 1 meeting.

The board has commissioned a complete structural engineering study and is finalizing the plan for the necessary roof repairs to be completed in the spring of 2019.

While logistics are being worked out with the opera house’s current owner, the board anticipates it will acquire ownership by year’s end. In the interim, the Board is drafting a business plan and a fund-raising strategy to support the buildings.

“Once we finalize purchase details, we will move quickly to set our plans in motion,” Carter said. “A revitalized Goss Opera House is critical to a thriving Downtown Watertown.”  

The Goss Opera House at the southeast corner of Kemp Avenue and Maple Street, first opened in 1889 and boasts a 450-seat theater on its second and third floor. Throughout its nearly 130-year existence, the Goss has hosted internationally recognized exhibits, theatrical, and musical performances.