Historic murals discovered!

What started out as a cleaning party ended up a truly historic moment for those of us at the theatre today. Those disgusting sound baffles on the back walls — you’ve seen them, right? Well they are there no longer. Board member Lane Youmans got a little bold (and tired of looking at them), and decided to just rip ’em down. We thought there might be some painting back behind these, and sure enough — some absolutely amazing original murals depicting the Spanish village facades that adorn the rest of the theatre. The “snow” you see in the first picture (taken moments after removing the material) is actually millions and millions of particles of historic dust.
Want to see more pictures? Check out more photoshere (includes a short video of the removal)

The work has begun!

After over three years of raising over $700,000 for our stage-rigging replacement project the work has finally begun. This huge project includes, in addition to the rigging replacement, new catwalks, fly floors, ladders, etc. AND A NEW CURTAIN — modeled after the original!

This past week Rognlin’s, Inc. covered the stage floor and moved in this huge snorkel lift. The proscenium opening is covered with with sheets of plastic, and the stage entrance door has more plastic and construction tapes running over the door. I couldn’t help myself, so I went in with my camera and made my way through the plastic and found this amazing creature on the stage. I was in awe. I have no idea how they got this on the stage, and it’s probably best that I don’t know.

Many volunteers showed up a few weeks ago to remove everything we could off of the stage (the movie speakers were especially difficult). The biggest obstacle has been: What do we do with the movie screen? The plan is that we will move it up against the back wall, with help from Rognlin’s, and cover it with fire-resistant tarps. There will be welding going on and we needed to protect the screen from flying welding embers.

My next project: take pictures of the movie screen covered in tarps, and hopefully be there to take shots when it’s being done.

Seats are gone!

The week of September 30 through October 4, 2008 has truly been a display of amazing dedication on the part of numerous people (all of them volunteers!) who helped remove 997 original seat backs, cushions and armrests at the 7th Street Theatre. Volunteers showed up on Tuesday and Wednesday completing over half the job, and on Saturday the job was finished.
Please take a moment view the pictures in our albumto appreciate the enormity of this project. Walking through the seat-free auditorium is like walking back in time to 1928, when “1100 of the finest type upholstered seats” were installed. 
The seats were hailed as “the newest and most comfortable design” and were made by the Hayward-Wakefield Company of New York. Notably, the 7th Street’s seats were similar to those installed in the famous Roxy Theatre in New York. (Hoquiam American, Feb. 9, 1928). On July 8, 1928, the Grays Harbor Washingtonian published this enlightening tidbit: “For comfort and convenience there are no stairs to trip the unwary foot; the heavy carpetings still the footsteps; the seats, especially designed for the 7th Street Theatre, are wide and comfortable and so placed there is no need to crane one’s neck to see the stage or screen. And there is no awkward crowding or stepping on toes to reach the center seats.”
Much discussion was held over the past few years on the best approach to “restore or replace.” There are several reasons behind the decision to restore the seats, the most important being that the 7th Street Theatre is an entirely unique theatrical venue in the Pacific Northwest. It is one of the last remaining “atmospheric” theatres, and is mostly in its original condition. The theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, and by restoring the seats the theatre stays in line with the standards for historic buildings. 
Another aspect is that more than half of the seats are tiered — placed on “steps.” This construction doesn’t allow the seat to be spaced forward or backward to increase leg room. The acoustics in the 7th Street are absolutely amazing (sort of like being inside a musical instrument), and many people feel that the wooden seat backs help with this aspect and to replace all seats with padded seats and backs would absorb the sound and diminish the acoustical properties. In any event, we felt it would be a travesty to this national treasure to remove the original seats, which have seated generations of Harborites for the past 80 years. The seat supports will be refurbished, all the cushions will be restored and the backs refinished.

Lounge Acts 2008

On Saturday, September 13, 2008, the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee presented their second concert at the 7th Street Theatre. Peforming were bands Harvey Danger, Schoolyard Heroes, Black Top Demon and Gebular. Proceeds will go toward a youth center in honor of Kurt Cobain.
We found some sites featuring videos and pictures of this concert and wanted to share these with you. The Audio Perv hosts four videos. Here is a Flickr album with some great shots taken that night. In addition, one of our volunteers shared his photos with us and you can find them in our Picasa album.

DeLoreans celebrate Back to the Future

Hoquiam was buzzing on Saturday August 23rd as members of the Pacific Northwest DeLorean Club drove into town in their DeLoreans (and one Lotus!) from King County, Yakima and the Portland area to help us celebrate the showing of the 1985 classic Back to the Future starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The Seattle contingent arrived about 3 pm stopping traffic on Simpson Avenue. 
The skies were blue, temperatures high, and the DeLoreans were a sight to behold in front of the 7th Street Theatre, where we were able to block off half a block to accommodate all of them. About 12 cars showed up, and with their gull-wing doors open, brought in people from all over town to check them out. Hoquiam’s annual On Track Art Festival was also in progress, and the town was alive. You can see pictures inour photo album. The theatre had a huge attendance Saturday night and the DeLorean club enjoyed it so much they want to do it again next year. What do you think?

Check out more pictures of this event located at CarDomain.

Volunteer Thank-you Party

On Monday August 11, 2008 we hosted a thank you dinner for our volunteers at the 7th Street Deli & Sweet Shoppe. We also had group photo shot, taken by Sativa Miller. One of the group photos will appear on the cover of our next newsletter, which will be coming out soon. We want to thank all of our absolutely wonderful volunteers who, with their enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work keep our community’s historic 7th Street Theatre alive for present and future generations. We all had a great time! If you’d like to see some more photos, here’s our album.

The new marquee

On July 11, 2008, Phoenix Sign Co. arrived at the theatre to install the new marquee, which is a replicate of the original. The original tracking system was used allowing the use of the original marquee letters. Here is a nighttime picture of the marquee, which lights up downtown Hoquiam. You can also view the album of the complete marquee and entryway project here. Happy 80th Birthday 7th Street Theatre!

Big Reel, April 1988

Being a sucker for any memorabilia related to the 7th Street Theatre, I made a purchase on eBay of an issue of the Big Reel, Issue No. 167 dated April 15, 1988. The seller stated that there was a one-page article about a Hoquiam theater, and when I emailed him to ask which theater, he replied with “the 7th Street.” I HAD to have this. Here is a copy of the article, republished from the July 19, 1987 issue of The Olympian.

Volunteers paint the entryway

On Saturday, June 28, when the temperature soared into the 90s, several dedicated 7th Street Theatre volunteers braved the heat to paint the entryway. The board is sincerely grateful to everyone who helped. It truly would not have been possible to get so much done without the help of these great volunteers. You can see pictures of the marquee and entryway restoration progress here.

The marquee project

If you’ve been by the 7th Street Theatre recently, you may notice something different. What happened to the marquee? Those of us who have spent hours on the historic Jones Photo Collection website have learned that the theatre did not orginally have a marquee. When the theatre was built in 1928 the ends of the portico (entryway awning) posted upcoming events. This is where the red “7th St” signs are now. There was a flat awning that ran around the entire theatre, above the large windows in the shops. It must have been difficult, when walking near the front of the building, to see the event postings. In 1929, the original candlestick sign, which was located on the corner of the building above the Sweet Shoppe, was replaced with a lighted section added which was used to announce upcoming events. We believe that the marquee was added around 1942.

The theatre received a generous donation from Dick andPat Warren of Hoquiam to restore the marquee, which has been deteriorating in recent years. The neon lights did not work, the lighting on the inside of the unit were very dim, and it was consumed by rust. Phoenix Sign Co. of Aberdeen removed the sign today and it is scheduled to be back up in mid-July. If you get a chance, be sure to stop by and check it out! The original paint is visible, and we found that the sign covered up some of the beautiful woodwork.