Seat installation begins

The seat installation is going amazingly well, considering there were about 450 seats delivered on Wednesday and about 40 boxes unloaded this weekend. About 10 people showed up over the weekend to help out. Work parties are scheduled at 9am from Wednesday January 7th through Sunday January 10th (or until they’re done). Stop by and check out the progress, maybe help for an hour or two. There’s something for everyone. Questions? Contact Lane Youmans.
A huge thank you to all who have pitched in!

The first shipment of seats has arrived!

The first shipment of seats were delivered by Washington Correctional Industries on December 31st. For those newbies — these are the original seats, restored. I’m beyond excited to see these installed and offering patrons a comfortable place to sit. Wow. The big question is: “who is the mystery person in the yellow coat?” Interested in helping? Contact Lane Youmans — we’re starting installation the weekend of January 3rd.

Stage rigging pulleys & lines in place

Here are some shots of the rigging pulleys mounted on the west wall of the stage area. This will be so wonderful for our stage hands! You can see the original pinrail set still in place — we kept it for historical purposes.

Fly floor grating

One of our brave board members (Lane), along with his trusty Kodak, headed up to the top-most newly constructed floor– the fly floor. This is right up there at the top of the fly loft. Rognlin’s installed this new metal grating over the top of the original wooden floor. One very cool thing is that there are now lights up here. I can’t even imagine climbing up to the top of the flyloft with the old ladder and then on the old wooden boards as they “bent” while walking on them — only to top it off with having to carry a flashlight. (shudder)

The armrests are back!

Here’s a picture of the newly refinished armrests recently picked up from the Dept. of Corrections. Nice, aren’t they!!!
We’ll soon be getting the restored cushions and seat backs in two separate shipments and volunteers will begin installation soon thereafter. Interested in helping with this? Email Lane Youmans, and he’ll get you on the list.

Working on the doors

Ken Boyle, rigorously working on repairing the damaged lead plating in the front doors

Rigging project progress

Rognlin’s is ahead of schedule on their portion of the rigging project. This project includes new catwalks, ladders and other structures which will make it easier and much safer for the stage people to handle the drops, lights, curtains etc. These photos were taken today. Electrical work will be starting soon, and Stagecraft will be moving in in early December to start work on their portion (rigging, line sets, drops etc.)
The top photo is a new platform that takes place of the old pinrail system (part of which is left on display backstage).
The bottom photo is looking almost straight up to the highest catwalk, showing the new access ladder on the left.

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.