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Arts Playlist: The Grand undergoes restoration of its facade

Delaware Public Media
The Grand Opera House in Wilmington is set for a restoration of its facade.

Roughly 50 years ago, The Grand Opera House in Wilmington received its first significant restoration.

This year, The Grand is again undergoing another restoration and redoing its facade.

For this edition of Arts Playlist, Delaware Public Media’s Karl Lengel is joined by The Grand's Executive Director Francis 'Skip' Pennella, Director of Sales and Marketing Dan Palmieri, and Director Of Operations Julia Dougherty for a closer look at the restoration efforts.

DPM's Karl Lengel talks with The Grand's leadership about the restoration of its facade

The exterior of The Grand Opera House in Wilmington is getting some attention.

The Grand’s facade is scheduled for a facelift this summer. It hasn’t had serious work done to it since work in the 1970’s to restore the building and relaunch it as a live performance venue.

The Grand’s Operations Director Julia Dougherty says work on the facade’s windows in 2018 revealed some areas of concern. And that concern is growing.

“During the pandemic year and about 2021, we noticed that there are some spots that are exponentially growing a lot faster than they actually should be. So, it came to the forefront to restore the face of The Grand now, before it has to be rebuilt.”

The facade work is expected to be completed by late summer.

The Grand’s Executive Director Skip Pannella says the staff has a certain sense of pride regarding their work to maintain The Grand.

“The staff here look at it in two ways. Obviously, we bring a lot of music here, whether it be rock, classical country, but we also see ourselves as stewards of this building, and we want to make sure that we leave it in better shape than it was when we got here.”

The Grand was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It presents more than 80 shows each season and hosts more than 300 events a year for more than 120,000 people.

It is also home to The Delaware Symphony, Opera Delaware, and First State Ballet Theatre.

Delaware Public Media's arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Karl Lengel has worked in the lively arts as an actor, announcer, manager, director, administrator and teacher. In broadcast, he has accumulated three decades of on-air experience, most recently in New Orleans as WWNO’s anchor for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and a host for the broadcast/podcast “Louisiana Considered”.