7th Street Theatre is receiving a bit of a facelift throughout this week and through the two weeks that follow.
The total process, which involves repainting the exterior of the building, sealing cracks on the J Street side of the exterior, and the installation of historic Assyrian panels to the 7th Street and J Street sides of the building, should bring smiles to Hoquiam residents. That was at least the consensus from a few of the members of 7th Street Association board — Ray Kahler and Mickey Thurman — and Jamie Brand, manager of 7th Street Theatre.
“It’s gonna be so nice to get it painted,” said Thurman, 7th Street Theatre Association’s board vice president.
The exterior work — currently in phase two, according to Kahler, 7th Street Association board president — is just another string of labor required to update the 95-year-old theater. The theater hosts movie nights — such as “Roman Holiday,” on May 6, the 7th Street Kids, a dance studio, theater productions and other entertainment.
The cost of phase two, according to Kahler, is about $330,000. $250,000 of that is for the restoration and painting of the J Street side of the building. The work needed to get the three Assyrian panels onto the top corner of the front and side of the theater will cost about $80,000, according to Kahler.
EverGreene Architectural Arts, out of New York, was picked to do the labor. They’ve worked on the theater before. Their past work includes painting the lobby the gold color. They’ve also worked on the auditorium inside.
So far, on the inside, LED lights replaced the incandescent lights inside the auditorium. The lights should be easier on the stage performers, audience members who need to see as they navigate to their seats or to get concessions, and on 7th Street’s pockets.
“It was good to do these first so we know how they work,” Brand said. “I also know how to stop them from flickering.”
If there’s a local production of “Romeo and Juliet” and Romeo freezes on stage while he’s claiming his love for Juliet because of a light flashing in his eyes, that isn’t good. While a hypothetical situation, the thought made Brand and Thurman laugh, because it’s true.
While inside the basement of the theater on Tuesday afternoon, Kahler showed a source of historic resurrection for the theater. Another version of the Assyrian panels that were placed on the front, top corner of the building, and continued on the right side of the building, will come back. The last panel was removed in 2019, according to Kahler. Portions of the other panels were removed “some years before that.”
Only a version of those panels will come back because the original ones that were on the building are more than worse for wear.
“You can see where pieces were breaking apart,” Kahler said. “EverGreene traced them back to The British Museum in London. Evergreene is making them more weather resistant with a resin.”
The panels should appear soon. The conservative estimate is late June.
As for the brunt of the exterior work, drivers and pedestrians can see EverGreene’s work. On Tuesday, the company had a three-man team. Derrick Taylor, the group’s supervisor, said the four colors he and his guys were using were Renwick Beige — on the walls; Grays Harbor — on the wood trim; Roycroft Copper Red — underneath the roof, and Nearly Peach — on the columns and the cross trim.
The team’s first week on the job was Taylor just getting the equipment ready and ordering the paint, because “you’ve got to order everything,” according to Taylor. Tuesday was only the second actual labor day for Taylor’s group. They’ll be working through the next few weeks. Kahler said they’re responsible for working on the crack sealing and the other maintenance work required.
The good news is the cracks in question are above the business areas, according to Thurman. The auditorium is not affected.
“It’s gonna look good when it’s done,” Taylor said. “It’s already looking good.”
In addition to past work on 7th Street Theatre, EverGreene has also worked on a few state capitols — including Wyoming’s and Arkansas’ state capitols. They specify on restoring old theaters, churches, and other historic landmarks. Taylor loves to work on theaters.
“Theaters are really nice. A lot of them get run down,” Taylor said. “But we get them to bring them back to life.”
Corey Wright, another EverGreene employee who was painting trim on the J Street side of the building, said he’s been doing this sort of work for the past five years.
“It’s cool,” said the 24-year-old Wright. “I’m young, so doing old work is a good way to make the world better.”
Throughout the constant upgrades 7th Street Theatre has undergone, they’ve run into problems that keep adding more expenses. Those problems include finding rot, finding some of the wiring inside the theater wasn’t commercial, the number of LED fixtures in the auditorium being miscalculated, and other issues.
With that said, the theater needs donations. To donate, people should go to 7thstreettheatre.com/donate. They can also send donations to “7th Street Theatre P.O. Box 777, Hoquiam, WA 98550.” They can also help the theater by attending the weekend movie nights. Admission is $6.
So far, the theatre has received $255,000 funding for the project from the following:
M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust — $125,000
Third Places Grant from the National Parks Service — $75,000
Grays Harbor Community Foundation — $30,000
Ben B. Cheney Foundation — $15,000
Timberland Bank — $10,000
Kahler said the balance is from community donations and the theater’s savings.
Brian Shay, Hoquiam’s city administrator, recently called the theater the “crown jewel of our community.” Shay championed the work volunteers have done for the theater in the past.
“We are so thankful for the dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly year after year to continuously renovate the theater to its full glory,” Shay said.
The work on the theater has already been on the radar of passersby, according to Wright.
“I can see a lot of people care in this community, because I’ve seen a lot come by and ask what’s going on,” Wright said. ‘We’re making y’all community better.”