By Casey Crowley

W ork on the Orpheum Theater renovation in downtown Baker City continues with designs being developed for both the interior and exterior of the historic Main Street building.

The Orpheum, at 1821 Main St., will eventually be the home for the Eastern Oregon Regional Theater and a site for a variety of live performances.

The Orpheum closed in 1956 and was converted into retail space.

“This community doesn’t have an acceptable, acoustically sound venue for the performing arts,” said Aletha Bonebrake, who works on fundraising for the Orpheum project.

The renovated Orpheum, with an estimated 350 seats, including a balcony, will be much larger than the Eastern Oregon Regional Theater’s (EORT) existing rented space in the Basche-Sage Place, which has about 50 seats.

The Orpheum renovation, which started in 2016, is in the fourth of nine phases. Sid Johnson and Company of Baker City is the general contractor.

The renovated theater will not be an exact replica of the original Orpheum but will evoke the building’s historical style.

David Burris of Baker City, who was a frequent moviegoer at the Orpheum when he was growing up, spearheaded the renovation by donating $160,000 — $130,000 to buy the building and $30,000 to kick-start fundraising.

Bonebrake estimated the project will cost about $2 million.

Supporters have raised about one-sixth of the amount needed, and Bonebrake said that once fundraising reaches the 40 percent mark, EORT can start applying for larger grants — more than $100,000 — from philanthropic foundations that support projects that have made substantial progress.

See more in the Nov. 26, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.