Around Del Norte: Roofing the next big project for LRT

By Laura Wiens, The Triplicate October 09, 2013 04:06 pm

The LRT’s Joan Buhler inside the theater in 2010.
The LRT’s Joan Buhler inside the theater in 2010. Triplicate file photo
Joan Buhler, vice president of the Lighthouse Repertory Theatre, stopped by the Triplicate the other day for a chat about the status of the future site of its performance center.

Besides a new exterior paint job, a lot of work has been going on inside of the old Red’s Twin Cinema on G Street, which was acquired by LRT in 2009.

“We’re making progress, even though it’s not very visible from the outside,” said Joan, who is also the building project manager. “It’s going to be visible when they start working on a new roof.”

Stone Roofing has been contracted by LRT to tackle the job.

“It’s squishy now,” said Joan, “so there’s two or three layers of roofing.” And perhaps an accumulation of dampness, she added.

Red’s was built in 1952 on one of the few downtown blocks between Third and Fourth streets to stay dry during the 1964 tsunami. That doesn’t mean the aging building hasn’t had its problems with moisture, however.

“The cement block is very porous,” she said of the building’s structure. “Water was coming in on the south side.

“Anyone who remembers watching a movie there,” she said, would recall “seeing the reflection of the movie in the water on the floor.

“We have so much to do and we can’t do it all at once,” said Joan.

After the roofing is complete, the next projects will involve the heating system, plumbing and lighting.

Many companies and individuals have donated countless hours to the work, much of which in the early stages involved cleaning and demolitions, including the removal of the wall that put the “Twin” in “Red’s Twin Cinema.”

Other projects have included removing the moldy seats and wall fabric, disposing of broken equipment and sandblasting interior walls.

In the meantime, LRT performances have been held at Crescent Elk Auditorium. When it’s finished, the new venue won’t be as large, “so we’ll have to have a lot more performances.”

“A lot of our performances are done in the winter during bad weather, so at intermission, people can’t go outside. Right now the lobby wouldn’t be able to accommodate everyone.”

The official name of the center will be the “Leon Red Thomas Performing Arts Center.”

LRT held its seventh annual fundraising gala Sept. 28 at the Veterans Memorial Hall and brought in about $4,000 from its auction alone. The overall amount of money raised is still being tabulated, but the attendance was good, Joan said.

“We’re very appreciative of the community’s support and its interest in the live theater project,” Joan said.