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$80,000 grant will help make CSPS Sokol Hall a year-round venue

As it approaches its 125th anniversary, the state’s oldest theater, CSPS Sokol Hall, is about to become usable year-round.

Sokol is a fitness organization that was originally founded in the Czech Republic, according to Joe Landsberger, who is a spokesperson for the hall.

He explains that the CSPS Sokol hall, which is run by the volunteer-driven Czech Slovak Sokol Minnesota, goes beyond that by offering everything from ethnic dinners to folk dancing.

The hall will soon be getting air-conditioning for its second-floor auditorium, thanks to an $80,000 grant from Partners in Preservation, a joint program of American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Partners in Preservation recently announced the results of a local competition to dole out $1 million to metro area preservation projects.

The cash infusion will be instrumental in doing more at the hall. “Our building was vacant in the summer because it got too hot,” says Landsberger. “This will enable us to expand programs into the summer months.”

The group of volunteers that runs the hall has been proactive in recent years in bringing the building up to current code standards.

It's all part of a long-range plan for the building, which has been undergoing incremental improvements for decades.

In the 1970s, the three-story commercial building was scheduled to be demolished, but the neighborhood and Sokol joined forces to get it historically designated.

Since then, Sokol has worked to raise funds for design work, heating and plumbing upgrades, a fire-protection sprinkler system, asbestos removal, floor repair, basement moisture remediation, and more, according to its website.

Because of the building’s historic status, “Everything has to fit without compromising the structure,” Landsberger says.

The work is necessary to “ensure the building has another 125 years of useful life with current standards,” he says.

Once the renovations are made, “We’ll put more energy into the programming side.”  

Source: Joe Landsberger, CSPS Sokol Hall
Writer: Anna Pratt
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