Earlier this month officials from the Nebraska State Historical Society and a representative of Congressman Adrian Smith’s Office, toured the newly-renovated Bonham Theatre, seeing just how much the historic tax credit helped the Bonham Theatre to reopen after being closed for several years.
Debby Ebke, Treasurer of the Bonham Theatre Project, explained that the group has worked hard over the past few years, fundraising to support a renovation project at the historic theater. She stated that the historic tax credit has helped the organization to complete the renovation project.
“For us, this was the final piece that put all the funding together to make the Bonham Theatre work,” said Ebke. “If we wouldn’t have been able to participate in this program, we would have been shy of the funds needed to complete the project. I can’t stress enough how much of a help this was to us. I’d like to see all communities reuse and repurpose their historic buildings, and I think the tax credit is one of the tools that can make that happen.”
She explained that the credit benefits the local economy, noting that small communities suffer when they do not have the resources available.
“Small communities are going to die if we don’t bring back some of these buildings and these businesses,” Ebke said. “People go to where they can get the things they’re interested in, so small communities lose out on that. It was great to be able to have people come and see what the Bonham Theatre was able to do with the help of this tax credit because this has been a success.”
Jill Dolberg, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, explained that since its inception, the state historic tax credit has been used for several projects in rural areas to revitalize historic buildings.
“We’ve been celebrating many successful projects throughout the state and we’re happy to show what can be done with the historic preservation incentives that are available,” said Dolberg. “The Bonham Theatre Project has been able to take advantage of the historic tax credit program. It helped to create some liquidity to help get the project started. We want people to come visit the places that have been rehabilitated and provide encouragement and recognition. This has been a very successful project here in Fairbury.”
Dolberg encourages organizations to apply for the historic tax credit to help with rehabilitation projects in their communities.
“I think a lot of people worry that there are too many requirements,” Dolberg said. “We just want them to reach out because we can work with them. We’ve had a lot of projects take place outside of Omaha, such as the Bonham Theatre and the Courthouse in Fairbury. There have been projects in Chadron, Hastings and so many more. It’s just a useful tool. The Bonham Theatre Project is really special because it took a group of dedicated people a lot of years to raise the money and to make this happen. It took a lot of momentum. I can’t praise this group enough for sticking to it.”