Building Renovation

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April 11, 2022

Lower Facade

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If you've watched our project presentation or read any of the materials, you may remember me saying that one of the big aims was to restore symmetry and verticality to the entire façade. Take a look at the first/left image. With most of the castings attached and the backer board on the walls you can already get a sense that the façade has legs now. You can also see the returned symmetry. In the middle image you can see the original quoins above the marquee connecting down to the new quoins below. Architectural Castings did a great job on the castings including the original artwork bas relief, "The Bechdel Test". I'm absolutely tickled pink to see the vision I had in my head coming to life in just the way I hoped.

The safes!

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3 safes

All in all there turned out to be three safes at the theater. We got them down to Atlasta Lock & Safe (not a piece of cake, they are VERY heavy.) They drilled holes in them and I examined each one with a scope. Alack and alas they were empty. I guess we have to keep fundraising after all...

March 4, 2022

Always with the surprises!

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Some days you're trying to figure out how to get a conduit through a concrete wall. Some days, in the process, you discover a safe instead.

March 1, 2022

What ISN'T happening at the theater right now!


The corner is in place! Wouldn't know it was there, would you? There are a few more pieces that are on my list for repair/replacement. Breaks in the terracotta are an invitation for water and we don't need any more of that! Both Architectural Castings and Pioneer Waterproofing did a great job.

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There's some major muscle involved with getting that piece in place.

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Personally, I think it looks awesome.


The lower façade project is rocking along. We needed to do some test digging to examine the concrete footings of the existing walls. First surprise, an unexpected void. Dark and spooky. It was about five feet long and a foot or so deep. There was also a 3" pipe down there. It was rusty and not in great shape. Our guess what that it was related to the old drainage system for the marquee. The thought was that it leaked and my good friend WATER caused the void. A decision needed to be made. The void plus a concerning crack in the floor tile added up to no choice but to remove the tile and see what the heck was going on underneath. Gotta say, I was NOT sad to see the tile go.

With the tile gone, we could see that a crack that was in the tile translated down all the way through the concrete. We could also see that it was caused by an unknown, abandoned, conduit. One of our main concerns is to assure that the terrazzo we're putting down will last and not crack. With the issues we were seeing, the correct path forward was to remove the slab and replace it with a thicker one with increased structural support. Ouch to the budget and ouch to operations when we realized on a Friday that we needed to close down the front doors on Monday. My thanks to all the theater folks that have been making it work.

Back came the concrete cutters. After much sawing and prying the concrete was gone and we were down to dirt. Et voila, another surprise pipe! Turns out that the 3" pipe that was in the void made a 45 degree turn and angled off under our front doors. No idea why or where, no idea if it was for fresh water or a drain. More crucially, no idea if it is in active use. I wouldn't put anything past this building. So of course I'm doing research and maybe I'll find it on an old plumbing permit someday. In the meantime I've documented it's location, length, depth, angle etc. All more data for my building archive.

So, more dirt was dug, rock was poured and compacted and now rebar is in place and inspected. Just in time for concrete tomorrow and doors open again Friday night!

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The void...

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Buh bye 1965 slippery tile, hello suspicious concrete slab.


There be dirt.


Surprise pipe #2


We have rebar!


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The theater is made of some strong stuff. This wall is right behind the the terracotta façade about half way up. It's probably 16" thick at least. I love the aggregate in it. I don't know where it came from but it always makes me think of the Missoula flood. All those round rocks.


Claws! Who knew! There are so many things to see on the building...

January 17, 2022

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It's time to play... WHAT THE???

I think I know what it is but I want more information. It's an electrical device that until recently actually had the power for our entire marquee running through it. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!? Yeah, that's how I felt.

One long deferred, necessary, upgrade led to a question to which this device was the answer. It was tucked into a corner in a crawl space behind the upper façade. No one knew it was live. YOW!

I've been told that it's a mechanical chaser for the original neon signage. AND THAT IS SO COOL! If you look at our signs today and note the effect of the LED bulbs "running" around the sign, that's chasing. So, I'm starting a little research on how they worked and when it was used. If anyone knows anything, let me know!

January 14, 2022

All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. - Toni Morrison

Ah water... must you? Waiting for more water testing. Actually, waiting for sunny weather so we can DO more water testing.

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Water leaking down the wall between the concrete structure and the surface applied terracotta.

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One of my side projects has been to replace a broken corner piece of terracotta. For a 96 year old building our upper facade is actually in pretty good shape, at least as much as can be assessed from the outside. This is one of only a handful of pieces that are truly broken. Architectural Castings took molds from the broken piece when they were up there taking the molds for the new quoins. They then recreated the piece in it's entirety. Pioneer Waterproofing took down the broken piece. The terracotta pieces are actually attached to the concrete structure with metal anchoring wires. In the photo on the left below you can see the kind of gap that can exist between the tile and the concrete. Unfortunately this creates a lovely path for water...which can also rust the metal anchors. Water may be life but it's not a friend to architectural terracotta.

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Broken piece on the left of image. Repairing it wasn't an option so we needed to do a full replacement.

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Broken piece halfway off. It turned out to be quite a task to remove!

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The recreated piece. It will be installed as soon as weather conditions permit. Architectural Castings did a fabulous job.


Upper Facade lighting

Anyone who has been by the theater in the evening these last couple months will notice that the upper terracotta facade is looking a little wonky. The top is rather dim. One of the three niche lights is out, as is the light in the "Juliet balcony". All the lights up there are very old and wired in a "creative" way. We'll be converting all the lights to LED and in the process will highlight some architectural details. The change will give us much more control over when the lights come on and off over the year. Currently they are always on and a waste of energy.

Lower Facade Project


In early - mid November we'll be start an initial demolition phase. This is the first stage in undoing the "remuddle" that the gentlemen in this photo worked on in 1965. We'll be stripping off the wall system they installed, back to the massive concrete foundation. We're doing this now so we can get accurate measurements and so our electrician can start mapping out the routes for all the lighting that we're adding.

You can learn more about the Lower Facade project from our virtual discussion that we held in September. Hear from Director of Facilities, Virginia Durost, and Architect, Paul Falsetto, about the discoveries and plans we've made as we worked on this project.

For more information, please contact:
Director of Facilities, Virginia Durost, at


The gateway to our dynamic film programming has always been our striking façade. Your gift will support this critical renovation, and will help us continue to steward and protect the historic beauty of our landmark theater. Every gift truly makes a difference! Make a gift today.

Donors who give $250 or more will be recognized OnScreen at the theatre. Donors who give $2,500 or more will be recognized OnScreen and on a commemorative plaque in the theatre lobby. Donor gifts from previous building campaigns (Marquee, Roof, and Restore the Doors) will be counted toward the $2,500 recognition level. Gift commitments of $500 or more may be paid in installments over a period of up to six months.

For donation assistance, please contact:
Development Director, Christen Fulk, at