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Crews have started work on a new home for the Verona Area Community Theater after a lengthy fundraising drive boosted by an anonymous donor’s gift.

A $1.7 million project to build the facility at 103 Lincoln St. broke ground last week, with work expected to wrap up in January, said Terry Dvorak, president of the VACT board of directors and head of its children’s programs.

The building will house the organization’s theater programs, rehearsals and some small performances in a space that can fit an audience of up to 150 people. The theater company will continue to stage its eight larger performances each year at Verona High School.

Once built, the facility will be a big step up from VACT’s current home — a space on the city’s south side Dvorak said she could only describe as “a big-ol’ tool shed.”

The construction is the culmination of fundraising efforts that started in 2014.

In December 2015, an anonymous donor offered up to $100,000 in a matching gift to support the project, which Dvorak said helped spur more donations.

“The donations just started coming back in again,” Dvorak said, and the entire gift was used. “We kind of had a dry spell for a while because a lot of people had already given — it re-generated some of those same people to give again.”

VACT will continue raising money to pay off a mortgage on the new building, she said.

But seeing work start on the facility is a “dream come true,” Dvorak said.

“We never doubted that it would happen eventually, but we are beyond excited that we ... can finally start making it happen,” she said.

Dvorak said the new facility will also be available for recitals, programs and meetings put on by other organizations, such as the nearby Verona Fire Department.

“It’s a building that we want to share,” she said.

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