BROOKLYN, IOWA -- Behind the shuttered doors of the Brooklyn Opera House is a rich history. "It is amazing how many people have gotten their first kiss and more people spent time throwing stuff off the balcony at their friends below but it really has been a center for the community," said Brian Manatt, President of Brooklyn Community Development.
Friends and family of Mollie Tibbetts say she also spent her time spreading love and laughter and it is one reason her would be 21st birthday was used to help restore the historic opera house. Brian said, "A way to honor her on her birthday. We were very honored they contacted us and said they really wanted to see the funds go to the opera house because they do go hand in hand."
In honor of her love for the arts, Mollie's Movement is encouraging people to donate $21 to the restoration project. "Restoring this and giving other students the opportunity to perform and do what she did so well is exciting for the community," said Laura Manatt, also with Brooklyn Community Development.
As the building prepares for a resurrection, its original proposal in the early 1900`s to use public funds was a controversial issue ending in the Iowa Supreme Court. "A community member blocked it with a lawsuit, fought the city all the way to the supreme court and won. That lawsuit stood until the 1970s as law for the state of Iowa," Brian said.
Private funds built the opera house. "Whether it was theater or live music movies whatever it was it brought the community together," said Laura Manatt.
It also brought Mollie's family together. "We'd be piling into our car and going to work at the opera house and that's where I had helped my dad make popcorn and worked the concession stand," said Mollie's mother Laura Caulderwood.
Unveiled at the birthday celebration were two sculptures. Eight foot versions will grace the historic buildings grounds. One is depicting Mollie walking her dog, another of her gathering with children at a daycare. Making sure Mollie's memory will forever look over the Brooklyn Opera House. Brian said, "What you`ll see when we unveil the statues is a really great tribute to Mollie and who she was and the playful youthful personality she was."
Nearly two million of the expected two point eight million dollar project has already been raised through donations and grants.
the renovation is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.
You can donate here.