The old Red’s Twin Cinema theatre located at the corner of 4th and G streets has new owners already hard at work getting the building back in working shape.
First Service Plumbing & Heating purchased the building from Lighthouse Repertory Theatre. Their plan was to reopen the building as the company’s base of operations within a year.
“We bought the building about three months back and we have been gangbusters on it ever since,” said Patrick Hawkins, who co-owns First Service Plumbing with his father, also named Patrick.
“We are redoing a lot of the building. It’s going to be really beautiful when we are done.”
Lighthouse Repertory Theatre had purchased the building about 10 years ago in hopes of of turning it into its permanent home.
Although there was considerable excitement from the community at the time, and significant donations in the form of equipment and volunteers to get the building back up to code, the theater company had trouble getting enough money to complete the project.
An estimated $2 million was required to refurbish the building as a theatrical playhouse, according to a report by The Triplicate in 2010.
“We were working on getting funding to do it, but when I took over as the president we were lacking in funding,” said theater company president David McPhail.
“So in the best interest of the community, we weren’t taking any more money towards that building. We agreed to put it up on the market.”
Lighthouse Repertory Theatre listed the building for sale about a year ago and it caught the attention of the younger Hawkins’s twin brother, Kevin, who owns Alder Point Real Estate.
“I finally convinced my dad to just go ahead and buy it,” said Patrick Hawkins. “It’s a little bit bittersweet. It’s really sad that Lighthouse Repertory Theatre didn’t get to make it work, because they are such a great organization.
“But at the same time, it is awesome that they were able to free themselves of it, and give us an opportunity to make it a usable building.
“I hate seeing buildings in downtown Crescent City that are vacant.”
McPhail said he was pleased to see the property sold so quickly, especially to people interested in preserving the structure.
“It actually went faster than I thought it would,” said McPhail, “And I know the Hawkins family, so I was really glad they were interested in it. It is going to get good use now.
“I didn’t want to give it to somebody who was just going to mow it down, because it is kind of a nostalgic building for Crescent City.
“They are going to use the building, which is great.”
That nostalgia is shared by the building’s new owners, who themselves have fond memories of going to Red’s Twin Cinema, which opened in 1952, to catch a show.
“It is always going to kind of be like a theatre — we still call it ‘the theater,’” Hawkins said. “We grew up here, so we refer to it as the theater and it will still have that theater feel to the outside.
“I doubt that that will ever go away,” he said. “It will probably always be that building that everybody went and saw movies in.
“It will just have some plumbers in it.”
First Service Plumbing has been renting office space for a while now, and they are pleased to finally have a more permanent location.
“We have rented multiple office spaces, but this will be our first place where clients can come in and look at water heaters or furnaces,” Hawkins said.
“It is mainly going to be an office up front and our shop in the back.”
Thanks to the work done by Lighthouse Repertory Theatre over the past decade, Hawkins said, First Service Plumbing was able to hit the ground running.
“It’s a great building. It has a new roof and a new paint job and, and they already had emptied out a lot of the materials that were in there.”
Hawkins said his first step was to cut a garage door into the side of the building to allow dump trucks to deposit loads of gravel to bring the floor up to grade. When it was a theater, the floor sloped downward about 6.5 feet, end to end.
“For a theater, it is perfect,” Hawkins said, “but for almost any other function, it doesn’t make any sense.
He said the plumbing company brought in about 500 yards of gravel, roughly 1.6 million pounds, to flatten out the floor.
This week, half of the concrete was poured, with the other half scheduled for Tuesday.
“Then it is going to be a fully functional building,” said Hawkins. “It is going to be great.
“It is a cool building, nice that it is going to be reused. We are super stoked to have it.
“So far, everything has gone exactly how we expected. There are always hiccups, but thus far it has been a pretty good little project.”
Hawkins said once the concrete is ready, they will put on the garage door and work on sealing the building before turning their attention to the interior.
“Once we are finished with the inside, we will go back out to the outside and do all the cosmetic stuff,” Hawkins said.
“I’m sure within the calendar year we will be done here, so we have probably nine months remaining, I would imagine.
“We don’t like being in limbo, because it makes everything more expensive. So the sooner it is done, the better for us.”
Meantime, although the old theater proved too costly for Lighthouse Repertory Theatre to complete, that organization is still here to stay.
“Lighthouse Repertory Theatre is still going strong and we are working with TAB & Associates in one of his buildings for a performing arts center,” McPhail said.
“Right now, we are conducting our theater at the Tab & Associates Building, the old Ben Franklin building.
“We have a new show coming up — “Giants in the Sky” — a children’s musical, which is starting Aug. 2 and running through the whole month.”