‘Back to life’
Three major renovations of Struthers Library Theatre
Historic Struthers Library Theatre
Modern Era of Preservation, Restoration & Renovation
This report is the story of three major renovations — the centennial “bring it back to life” restoration in 1983 that began it all, the 125th anniversary campaign to update, restore and add accessible seating and the 135th anniversary campaign, the granddaddy of the three that has markedly changed the accessibility and usage of the theatre for all future generations.
None of it would have been possible without the major gutting in 1982-1983 and the fact that the theatre has been maintained and kept scrupulously clean while it aged in place.
100th Anniversary Centennial Campaign 1982-1983 $400,000+
The theatre was a movie house from 1930 to 1981 with only an occasional Barbershop Concert or Rotary Travelogue. Three wise men, a beloved theatre historian and artist, the curator of the Warren Historical Society and the devoted project chairman, spent many hours and days examining old photographs and records searching through long-closed and isolated sections of the building. After the money was raised, almost two hundred volunteers took part in cleaning it out and preparing for its rehabilitation and restoration. Families brought supper, ate and worked night after night doing the dirty work. Professionals designed and implemented the plans.
Removed tapestries and the remaining decorations to expose older surfaces
Discovered and learned many hidden room configurations
Uncovered the original colors and decorations, particularly the hand painted stencils
Stripped the walls and floor of rotted red carpets.
Filled dozens of dumpsters with dirt, broken fixtures and detritus abandoned by Blatt Brothers the movie company lessee. 50 years of trash – gone
Matched the original warm reds, antique golds and taupe colors in auditorium
Replicated soft apricot and tea colors in the lobby
Repainted lobby, complete auditorium, mezzanine and all remaining public spaces
Cut new stencils for application throughout the auditorium and lobby
Completed hand-applied stenciling from five stories of scaffolding
Rebuilt several chandeliers, including the gasolier of the Library Room with electric bulbs that maintain their original appearance.
Acquired four large matching crystal chandeliers from closed historic theatres to replace missing fixtures. Although not original, they replicated the style and the appearance of the era’s originals in the mezzanine.
Lavishly mirrored each end of mezzanine to reflect the new crystal chandeliers to infinity
Refinished beautiful keyhole in the mezzanine overlooking the rear of the orchestra section below
Hung newly acquired 5′ crystal chandelier above center of keyhole
Repainted and carpeted mezzanine
Discovered art deco chandeliers for the balcony were rebuilt and rehung
Removed the 1953 projection booth which had largely invaded the balcony exposing the original booth and balcony configuration
Rebuilt and replaced decayed coverings over the former organ pipe openings in the front of the theatre
Professionally restored worn and torn existing theatre seats (in Michigan). Original walnut frames were hand finished.
Restored numerous artifacts found in the loft and other isolated areas of the theatre. including an original wooden vaudeville sign, a magnificent silk curtain, several painted backdrops from the 1920’s era, a beautiful Vaudeville advertising curtain (circa 1920 with some businesses still extent!) and an early ticket rack
Reconfigured and rebuilt 4 public bathrooms
Replaced velvet stage curtains,
Purchased sound system with new board
Purchased lighting system board and fixtures.
Stage work lights were replaced.
NOTE: The year following the grand re-opening, the Library Room was completely restored. This is an integral space in the life of the theatre. It was the original public library in Warren and has been allocated as a reception, party and small entertainment space. The room is 40′ x 60’with a 24’ceiling. The three-tier staired stacks still occupy one end of the room, fully loaded with antique books. The old checkout desk serves perfectly as a cocktail bar. The updated lighting fixtures are original as is the Georgia pine floor. The lower raised paneling is all original red oak that is kept polished. The room hosts 150 for stand-up parties and 80 for formal sit-down events with a small dancing space.
125th Anniversary Capitol Campaign 2008-2011: $1,051,000
First item completed 2009 – Accessible seating. Architect designed and supervised two symmetrical seating areas each with capability to seat 6 to 8 including companions. Net loss of 30 seats.
Hired Keystone Waterproofing to chemically clean, repair, point and waterproof entire brick exterior.
Repaired and and/or replaced exterior limestone decorative elements
Repaired and painted roof turrets and gables
Repaired all water-damaged plaster and molding in lobby and Library Room.
Installed all new velvet stage curtains
Repaired and updated fly counterweight system
Installed new: sound board; speaker system; 16 body mics; portable sound system; wireless mics; monitor mixers; 3-way clear-com system
Purchased infra-red broadcasting system with 15 assisted listening devices
Added 6 programmable “intelligent” lights; Socapex balcony extended wiring units and new light board
Replaced old single boiler furnace with 2 new boilers including conversion from one heating zone to four,
HVAC for 4th floor rehearsal hall where there was no heat or air
Replaced rotted scene dock doors with 16′ high custom overhead door
Added a fire exit to Theatre Annex
Debrided, repaired and repainted all fire escapes
Annex parking lot removed, drained, graded and repaved
Excavated and rebuilt collapsed stone retaining wall
Sanded and refinished floors 2400 sq.’ Library Room floor
Replaced all oversized original Library Room windows
Replaced all second and third floor apartment windows
135th Anniversary Capital Campaign 2016-2018 $2,750,000
Added a four story elevator tower providing accessibility to Mezzanine, Library Room, Lighting Booth, Top of the Balcony and Rehearsal Hall.
Installed public access elevator with glass backed cab for viewing historic neighborhood.
Elevator tower contains 4 vestibules with large viewing windows of downtown Warren.
Replaced 18′ canvas marquee with 44′ glass, steel and light marquee.
Structural steel installed 12′ below ground required removal of sidewalk
Glass skylight in center third provides view up to newly lighted front facade. It is heated for the comfort of assembling winter patrons
The first floor exterior was completely repainted including repair of marquee poster boxes.
Removed sidewalks with commemorative bricks to accommodate reconfiguration of the front sidewalk for accessible drop-off and parking.
The east sidewalk reinstallation was sloped accommodating removal of steps at two entries.
East sidewalk was doubled into a plaza space after the projection into the street to accommodate the elevator tower construction.
Brick sidewalk extended the length of the building replacing crumbled concrete.
All exterior paintable surfaces scraped, sanded and repainted.
Emergency exit support wall rebuilt due to gradual collapse supporting sidewalk
Exterior safety lighting was installed on the east side of the building.
New accessible entry ramp was built on the east side of the retail space giving accessible entry to the space for the first time.
Rotted delivery door at the back of the shop area was replaced.
Main entry doors were replaced with 8′ bronze doors.
Electric accessible entry was added to the front doors and the tower doors.
Entry door to the retail space was cut through from the theatre lobby to facilitate future access for refreshments, concessions and cafe.
Custom cafe curtains were fabricated for windows in retail space/cafe.
The third floor (light booth, top of balcony) was painted and carpeted to facilitate its transformation to a public space from a behind-the-scenes space.
New accessible ramp was built in the east side of the fourth floor rehearsal hall
Removed 80-year-old roofs including four flat roofs. Abated asbestos shingles and rebuilt with 40+ year architectural shingles. Reroofed turrets and original corner tower. New tower roofed in same material but in different shape to conform to Historic Commission mandate.
Repaired all Yankee gutters and added snow guards. Repaired/rebuilt small architectural gables.
Removed and replaced all seating (98 years old) to replace with velvet and cherry wood seating supported by decorative period appropriate, steel exterior standards.
Permanently removed 30 seats in balcony to enable the installation of wider seating.
Designed and installed hand railings at each row end in balcony to facilitate comfort and safety.
Reconfigured Library Room entry stairs and door to facilitate added passenger lift for limited access patrons.
Added steel column in future cafe for lift support and installed lighting into created support area.
Reconfigured west egress door of Library Room
Created new re-branding logo to use for both marketing items and as part of interior/exterior design.
Designed and Commissioned 18′ lighted copper peacock sculpture with local artists to grace the 44′ niche in elevator tower.
Added new logo in etched treatment to front doorways
Add 4 1/2-foot antique crystal chandelier to lobby.
Painted throughout as needed.