Forklift Firm Builds New HQ in Old Opera House


Crown’s Newest Corporate Building in New Bremen, Ohio (Photo courtesy of Crown Materials Handling)

Since it was first built in 1895, the historic Boesel Opera House, in New Bremen, Ohio, has played host to performances of the works of Puccini, Verdi and Mozart.

Today, it’s the new home of the marketing, sales, service and branch operations teams for  Crown Equipment Corporation, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of forklifts and other industrial equipment.

Interior Destroyed by Fire

Up until February 2012, the opera house housed a brew pub and barber shop. But a fire that month destroyed the historic building’s interior.

The fire broke out February 25, 2012, when the businesses were closed, so there were no reported injuries. Investigators later ruled it to be accidental. During the blaze, part of the building’s second floor to collapse into the restaurant’s walk-in cooler, causing some floor joists to give way.

Renovation Begins

Crown, which has its corporate headquarters in New Bremen, began renovating the building in April 2012. One of the first things workers installed were new wood trusses, sheeting and roofing to “button up” the building and prevent it from being damaged by the elements, according to Sean Dorsten, president of HA Dorsten, the general contractor on the project.

Next, a one-story building on the west side of the opera house that formerly housed a men’s clothing store then a doctor’s office was demolished.

Workers were able to save a number of features of the original building that were not significantly damaged by the fire, including of the opera house’s original facade and ceiling beams. Original tile flooring from an history New Bremen hotel also were incorporated into the new construction.

Important Building for the Community

Mark Manuel, vice president of Crown Construction, said the company wanted to help restore the heritage of one of New Bremen’s most important buildings.

“The fire that destroyed the opera house was an event that impacted our community and our employees,” Manuel said in a news release. “As the primary employer in the area and in alignment with a company tradition of brownfield development, it was important that Crown took a lead role in the redevelopment of the space and reclamation of as much of the opera house as possible.

“The new facility is the result of collaborative efforts among many organizations,” he said. “It stands today as a testament to the perseverance of our community and Crown’s commitment to the future of New Bremen.”

Environmentally-Friendly ‘Green’ Features

The building includes a number of environmentally friendly features that are consistent with Crown’s commitment to environmental sustainability, including windows made of “smart glass” that can automatically tint themselves in response to outside conditions. The windows — which were developed by View Inc., of Milpitas, California — eliminate the need for shades or blinds and offer better utilization of natural lighting.

The building’s interior utilizes an open air design with open work spaces and fewer offices, which also benefits from natural lighting.



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