Dear Strand Fan,
The work session for our renovation went great. Before we get to all that good stuff, let’s go back and catch up on a few things.
The last week of our 2013 we had 2200 attend performances at the Strand. The very last night was Donnie Baker. We had two sold out shows. Unfortunately we didn’t plan our concessions usage too well. We ran out of Diet Coke and popcorn. A quick trip to Cagney’s and we were back in business with Diet Coke. Thank you Cagney’s. A quick trip to Studio 10 and our popcorn was popping again. Thank you Studio 10. We live in a great community.
We wound down the 2013 season and prepared for our renovation. The goal of this renovation was to install our new seats in the balcony. Additionally we installed our balcony restrooms. The goals seem simple enough, but to get there was quite the journey. We had a good start with generous funding from the Blue River Community Foundation and Mainstreet Shelbyville.
Since that time we have been completely focused on getting the Strand open. This email is written as we start our 2014 season. We made it! The steps to get here are a testament to the dedication and skill of our volunteers and local contractors.
The renovation started by clearing the work space. The existing bathroom in the balcony has not been used in over 40 years. It had no active plumbing or heat and AC. In order to run the ducts for the new heat we needed to clear the attic above the space for the ductwork. Easier said than done.
The attic in the Strand has been the repository of 98 years of junk. Our volunteers lugged everything down and out. That included 2 full movie projectors and stands. The stands are cast iron and very heavy. We didn’t even know they were up there. We also removed over 200 seat parts that were put in the attic years ago.
It was obviously easier to put things in the attic rather than carry them out. We found trash dating to 1916, the year the Strand opened. We also found 6 toilets, movie reels, film cabinets and 3 very cool sconces.
We had to remove all the seats from the balcony too. That means carrying every seat component down. A great group of volunteers disassembled the balcony seats. This is the same crew that did the exact same job at the Hilbert Circle Theatre when we got our new seats. Their experience was evident. The seats were in stacks ready to carry quickly.
The cabaret area looked the the trash bin of the Death Star. Piled high to the ceiling. In the pile were the seats, projection parts and even our old Frankenstein Switch that ran the Strand’s power from 1916-2013. What do do with all the stuff….
We kept everything that was meaningful. This included all sorts of old receipts, tickets and promotional items dating back to 1917. We also found some of our original 1916 seats. We donated those seats along with the interior components of our Frankenstein Switch to the Grover Museum. We also found a beautiful wood and neon sign that said “Lane’s Flowers”. The was an early reader board. We donated that to the museum too.
As many of you know, we sold our 1938 seats. We ended up selling many seats to Strand Fans who wanted a piece of local history for their home theatre. We donated seats to the Blue River Community Foundation, Grover Museum and the First United Methodist Church. We are happy they could use what we had. The rest of the seats were recycled.
With the junk removed work could begin. Jim Marshall of Runnebohm Construction worked with Tony Nicholson of Space and Sites to design our upgrades. The balcony had 5″ added to the length of every row. If you have been in our balcony, our 1938 seats were only part of the problem. There as no leg room. The rows were too close together. We extended each row. The result was the loss of one row of seats in the lower balcony. We never installed the first row of seats in 2007 when we renovated the theatre. That row has been sitting quietly empty waiting for this process.
The upper balcony also required a row of seats to be removed. The upper balcony was extended 7″ per row. It is really comfortable. The new seats will fit great on these extended rows. The rows were built and the ready for paint. Gordon H. and our Strand paint crew went to work. They caulked and prepared the surface. Rolland S. lead the efforts to prepare the surface. He is a professional caulker and knew exactly what to do. Everything was primed and painted with at least two coats of oil based floor paint. As always, Ray Wetnight from Shelbyville Paint and Wallpaper gave us the perfect paint for the job. The new wood sections (from Builders Lumber) blended perfectly with the old concrete. It always looks better when it is supplied locally!
Next our volunteers had to get our seats into the theatre and sorted into rows in the balcony. Easier said than done. The first problem came when the warehouse that was donated to the Strand was leased. The new tenants arrived on February 1st. We had to get our seats out by January 15th. What do you do with a truckload (40 skids) of seats? The ideal place to store them temporarily would be a semi-trailer. After all, they had to get to the Strand eventually. After a great suggestion by our friend John Huber of Huber Bros. Painting, we called Quickway. Ray at Quickway understood our problem. In no time we had a wonderful 53′ semi-trailer parked at the warehouse dock. This was due to the understanding and efforts of Quickway, Kroger & Penske Logistics. Thank you Ray for saving us!
Our volunteers loaded the trailer. Sure enough not quite 2 weeks later Quickway delivered the trailer to the Strand. This was the morning after a 5″ snow. Mike from Quickway was able to maneuver the truck into place without any problem. Our volunteers went to work at 9:00am on a Saturday work session. By 2:00pm we had all new the seats in the theatre, on the balcony, and pieces assembled by rows. We used the “Bucket Brigade” method to do this. The 24 volunteers that Saturday got the job done.
The newly prepared balcony was ready for the installation. Dennis and his crew from Runnebohm installed the seats in only 3 days. When finished, our seating capacity decreased in the balcony from 211 to 203. We think that is excellent considering the upgrades. The seats look and feel great.
At the same time as the balcony renovation work progressed on the bathrooms and offices. First order of business was demolition. We had to remove the ceilings in the north and south offices. Getting the old plaster and lathe down is only half the battle. Cleaning the rubble and getting it out was just as difficult. The new bathrooms required the relocation (hence removal) of a wall. With the weather it wasn’t possible for us to place a dumpster at the Strand. Instead we took loads of construction debris here and there. Thank you to Blue River Printing, Plymates, Builders Lumber and National Automotive Lines for providing dumpster space for our debris.
Soon the bathrooms will have new plumbing, electricity, plaster walls and tile floors. It will be nice. The balcony will receive its new carpet this week. New paint is being applied at every step of the process. We hope to be done with that portion of the project soon.
That brings us to today. We finished in time for the Shelby County Reads presentation of “The Black Stallion.” This Sunday matinee was well attended with lots of people in the balcony! This week we have the National Honor Society of Shelbyville High School presenting “Mr. Shelbyville.” This is a fundraiser by Junior and Senior boys on behalf of Our Hospice of South Central Indiana – Shelby County. This is always fun for the Strand. We have no idea what will be on stage! It is always creative. The show starts at 7:00pm on Wednesday February 19th. Admission is $7.00
It has been a busy month. The results are worth it. We hope you come to an event soon and check it out. This is all possible because of your support. Thank you for making the Strand Theatre a performing arts and entertainment destination. We hope to see you at the Strand!
SHS National Honor Society
Fundraiser for Our Hospice
Wednesday February 19, 2014
Shelby County Players
TROUBLE IN TUMBLEWEED
March 6-9, 2014