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Construction projects linking Holmes Theatre, new Becker County Museum nearing final stages

Renovations to Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre complex are expected to be complete when the 2022-23 theater season officially gets underway in September, while construction of the adjoining Becker County Museum building should be finished in time to open at the start of the new year.

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Workers from Meineke Construction have been busy finishing up construction of the new Becker County Museum this summer, so the building will be enclosed in time for winter. The $7 million project is slated to be finished this fall, though the grand opening of the new facility will likely take place in January, according to Executive Director Becky Mitchell.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — Construction of the new, 30,000 square foot Becker County Museum is expected to be complete within the next couple of months, according to its executive director, Becky Mitchell.

"We're slated to take ownership (of the building) in October," Mitchell said, "but we probably won't reopen until after the new year."

According to an Aug. 3 post on the museum's Facebook page, "interior studs are in place, mechanical is being installed, sewer and water are starting on the west side."

The museum is currently closed to the public, Mitchell said, as the demolition of the old building is expected to begin this month and the new building is not yet ready for occupancy.

"The demolition of the old building will be happening in mid to late August," she said. "The goal is to have the new parking area (where the old building now sits) done this fall."

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Peter Jacobson, CEO of the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center, stands at the new entrance to the Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom, which is now directly across the hall from the entrance to the main theater. It's one of several renovations that were made to the ballroom and theater this summer.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Meanwhile, renovations to the adjoining Historic Holmes Theatre are expected to be finished by Oct. 1, said Peter Jacobson, chief executive officer of the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center (which includes the theater complex).

Most of the renovations at the theater involve refurbishing the ballroom and its adjacent catering kitchen and conference spaces on the second floor, the addition of handicap accessible seating to the theater balcony and finishing off the areas of the building that will connect to the new museum.

"Everything is almost there," said Jacobson, noting that the project is now "80-90% complete," but "the remaining 10% is still really important."

One of those really important things is the addition of the handicap accessible seating in the balcony, which should be ready for the start of the theater's 2022-23 season in September.

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The Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom has undergone some extensive renovations this summer, including the removal of a concrete bleacher section and installation of a new door across from the entrance to the main theater. The entire project is expected to cost about $1.2 million when complete.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"The whole project started around the balcony seating, and that will be the last thing to be done," Jacobson said.

Another aspect of the project involved the installation of new projector screens in both the ballroom and the main theater; that part of the project is now complete, he added.

When finished, the cost of the entire project will come in right around $1.2 million, Jacobson said, noting that the renovations were funded through "a combination of donations from businesses, individuals and private foundations."

The price tag for the new museum building is a bit higher, coming in at around $7 million. It was funded through a combination of state bonding money and donations from city and county governments, private individuals, community organizations and area businesses.

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"It's very exciting to see things starting to pull together," said Mitchell.

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Becker County Museum Executive Director Becky Mitchell stands inside the area of the new museum building where her office will be located. She says the building should be ready for the museum to take ownership by October, though the facility will most likely open shortly after the start of the new year.
Contributed / Becker County Museum

Some of the things she is most excited about are an expanded research library, with recording and audio-visual equipment, and the addition of learning labs with access to specialized equipment such as laser engravers, 3D printers, soldering irons, computers and other electronics.

When not in use for classes, these areas can be rented out as maker spaces, she added.

The main exhibit hall will be two stories high, enabling the installation of larger exhibits, and there will also be an outdoor patio on the second floor. A coffee shop is planned for the lower level, though Mitchell said they are still searching for someone to run it.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at vgerdes@dlnewspapers.com.
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