Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Minutes of Past Meetings


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Emergency Meeting - the Garman Opera House

Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 10 AM


Location:  Home of Dick & JoAnn Knupp, 441 N. Spring St., Bellefonte


Attendance: JoAnn Knupp (President), Jim Dunne (Secretary), Sally Houser, Colina Seeley, Nancy Miller, Keith Koch, Dick Knupp, Gay Dunne.


The meeting was called by JoAnn to discuss the Garman Opera House.  She is not asking for financial contributions from BHCA or its members. She suggested to make an offer to the bank, Premier Mortgage Company, located in New Jersey ( to donate the building to BHCA; obtain a mortgage or commercial building loan for enough to restore the building to code and operation (JoAnn suggested $200,000, but it could be substantially more; FNB Bank would probably give us a mortgage); ultimately fund the building management through rental and business income (3 apartments, restaurant, 13 hotel rooms, a meeting room, auditorium/theater).  As a non-profit organization there would be no real estate tax which is currently $8270, (but we would need to make sure considering the commercial nature of the rentals).  She reviewed the recent history of ownership, Chapter 13 bankruptcy and imminent foreclosure.  And of course the fire for which there was no fire insurance.


Discussion: Colina expressed reservation about the workload for BHCA, which can barely keep up with its current programs, and concern about operation of the theater.  Keith suggested a live in manager.  Sally mentioned the State College Community Theater ( as a possible tenant and manager of the theater.


JoAnn said the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County was rescued by the same procedure as she is suggesting for the Garman.


Parking is a consideration.  JoAnn mentioned the Hotel Do De, which was destroyed by the fire, still has a facade in place.  If the facade could be preserved, perhaps there could be parking behind it.  Gay said the expense and structural integrity to preserve the facade is unknown, and the fate of that property is in the hands of the current owner (John Dann, Sr.).


Several people mentioned that other individuals and groups such as HBI, ABCD might be supportive; a broad community support would be very helpful. We may be able to obtain donated services from a lawyer, structural engineer and others.


Motion: Keith moved and Sally seconded a motion for BHCA to ask Premier Mortgage Company to donate the Garman House to BHCA contingent on a building evaluation and securing a mortgage or commercial loan to restore the building to code and operation.  Discussion included having a lawyer review the letter.  Chuck Brown was suggested.  He was one of a group of previous owners before the Garman was sold to David Harry.  The motion was passed by voice vote; Gay abstained.


Other Discussion:


We should obtain input from Dave Eggler.

We will need insurance on the Garman Opera House.

A copy of the BHCA 501 (c) (3) document will be attached to the minutes.

A good history of the Garman Opera House would be helpful.

The Bellefonte Historical Society, formed by Dick Knupp and Keith Koch has an official name registered with the State of Pennsylvania accomplished 2 months ago.



James Dunne, secretary