Posted by: wadahp | December 1, 2009

Hoquiam's 7th St. Theatre Undergoes Ceiling (and Seat!) Restoration

From Jacob Jones, The Daily World

Suspended high above the ground on scaffolding, the workers can touch the sky, run their fingers over the clouds and pull the stars from space.

Crews chipped at the fading heavens this week, pulling the plaster skyscape from the ceiling of the 7th St. Theatre in Hoquiam. The painted clouds crumble. The star light bulbs unscrew from their constellations.

Theater board member Mickey Thurman said crews started working earlier this month to restore and replace the worn plaster lining the landmark theater’s ceiling.

“The board’s really excited about what we’re getting to do,” she said.

A state grant is paying for about $250,000 in restoration work to the 81-year-old building. Thurman said the New York-based EverGreene Architectural Arts Inc. restoration company will replace the ceiling, which has needed attention for quite a while.

The theater has remained closed while workers take over the building, stacking construction equipment and tools throughout the stage, hallways and aisles.

Thurman expected the ceiling project to continue until about Jan. 15. The board plans to host a re-opening party at the end of the month to celebrate the face-lift.

Crews spent about two weeks installing massive metal scaffolding to create a working platform along the entire ceiling. The framework looms over the recently replaced seats below and fills the auditorium with a tangle of steel.

“The guys have been up there working,” Thurman said. “You can reach up and touch the ceiling.”

Polson Museum Director John Larson, who also serves on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, said EverGreene is among the finest restoration companies in the country.

“It’s fantastic what they’re doing in there,” he said. “They’re the best.”

Larson noted the company makes every effort to restore buildings to not just their original appearance, but paint analysts try to match paint chemicals and glazes. Every aspect is restored as authentically as possible.

“They’re really going back to 1928,” he said.

Larson said he was “overjoyed” to see the restoration project move forward. He hopes the effort will serve as a model for other historic buildings in town.

“This is certainly up the alley of what our commission wants to see,” he said.

Thurman said the company has checked paints, compared the theater to historic photos and taken other steps to ensure an authentic restoration.

“We’re really, really excited that they could get this job,” she said.

Though the ceiling is not in as bad of shape as originally believed, Thurman said, it will be replaced, reinforced and repainted.

“We’re just excited as heck,” she said.

The 7th St. Theatre was added to the National Historic Register in 1987 and became the first structure on the city’s register last year as it celebrated its 80th year.

The ceiling is the latest in a series of major renovations to the historic theater, which recently received new stage rigging and refurbished seats. Thurman said the board had expected it to take at least three years before they could receive funding for the ceiling, but local legislators fought for the restoration.

“Everyone we talk to is really excited about it,” she said.

New fake greenery that lines the garden-themed auditorium will also be matched with historic plants. Workers rebuilding the heavens will also repair the 56 light-bulb sockets that power the stars.

“All the stars will be visible,” she said. “They will all be re-lit.”

The theatre has recently  undergone an extensive seat restoration.  From Mickey Thurman, ” Our 997 original seats were fully restored by Washington Correctional Industries (McNeil Island), just this time last year while we were closed for the stage rigging and seat projects.”

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Responses

  1. What was the grant program or funding vehicle for the state grant used for the theatre renovation. Great work!

    • The funding was through the capital budget appropriation for this project — it was not a a grant. The seats and rigging was also partially funding through a separate appropriation and grants from private foundations. Thank you!


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