Restoration/Renovation of the Theatre
By: Greg Rueger, past ETPA President (Oct 2012 – April 2016)
The City of Coos Bay and the Egyptian Theatre Preservation Association first assumed ownership and preservation responsibility for the Egyptian Theatre in 2006. Much has been accomplished since that time to restore, renovate and preserve the Theatre.
Additional restoration and enhancement work implemented during this period includes:
- Repairing the Theatre’s roof.
- Mitigating flood concerns under the stage.
- Raising the Wurlitzer organ console and initiating restoration of the Theatre’s organ itself.
- Cleaning up the backstage area.
- Refurbishing the lobby concessions area.
- Refurbishing the main auditorium floor.
- Upgrading the mezzanine restrooms with new toilets.
- Enhancing electrical service to the projection booth and adding projection equipment that enhanced presentation of movies at the Egyptian.
- Repairing, replacing, and restoring stage lighting on the front of the balcony and fixtures throughout the Theatre.
- Replacing the stage curtain.
- Upgrading our marquee signage.
In 2010, the City of Coos Bay commissioned an engineering study to help identify, estimate and prioritize Theatre restoration activities. The resulting study indicated that the rear wall of the Egyptian was not structurally sound and was essentially sinking into the silt beneath the Theatre. The City of Coos Bay determined that the building was not safe for occupancy and closed the Egyptian early in 2011. The Historic Preservation League of Oregon (Restore Oregon) listed Coos Bay’s Egyptian Theatre on Oregon’s Most Endangered Places list in May of 2011.
Over the course of 2011, the City and ETPA studied what needed to be done, and devised a plan to raise the funds required to implement the structural modifications needed. The ETPA reorganized itself to focus on the task at hand and, with the City’s help, retained key experts to assist in the process. These included George Kramer, noted Preservationist and past chair of the Oregon Preservation Commission; Herb Stratford, owner of Historic Theatre Consultants, with a long history of operating historic theatres, and serving on the Board of the League of Historic American Theatres; and Rich Foster, Principal of Cascadia Consulting Partnership, who designed our capital campaign and assisted in developing and implementing our grant funding strategies.
From 2013 through 2015 the ETPA successfully raised over $1,300,000, enough to implement the required structural repairs, restore the Egyptian’s Broadway facade and undertake other high priority preservation activities. Over $380,000 was raised from the local community and over $920,000 was obtained through the support of the following foundations and organizations:
In June 2014 the Theatre re-opened with structural issues fully addressed, new roofing over the fly loft (back portion of the theatre) and drainage systems, enhanced electrical service to the Theatre, main floor ADA compliant restrooms installed, restoration of the lobby and portions of our Broadway entry, and the hire of an experienced Executive Director/Theatre Manager, Kara Long, to take the Egyptian Theatre to the next level … a truly vibrant entertainment complex operated for the benefit of the greater Coos Bay Area community.
Broadway Façade Restoration:
George Kramer, our historic preservationist, designed a series of five Broadway façade restoration/enhancement steps that we could implement over time. We were able to raise the funds required to implement the first four steps prior to our Grand Re-Opening of the Egyptian Theatre. By the end of 2015 we had raised the remaining funds needed to complete the last step of George’s Broadway façade restoration plan. By May 2016 we completed the installation of the new canopy/awning (whose design harkens back to the original awning the Theatre sported), the mounting of the new “ETPA logo” marquee on the front of the canopy/awning, the refurbishment of the Egyptian head pylon sign, decorative painting at the entrance and above the canopy/awning, and the installation of new display cases with LCD TVs.
Photos Row1: Demolition of old canopy, building new entrance, installing decorative panels, finished new entrance
Photos Row 2: New marquee being shop tested, installing the new marquee, Egyptian head pylon sign back up
Photos Row 3: The completed marquee
This brought to completion the majority of our structural and external restoration of the Egyptian Theatre. All that remains of our external preservation is to raise the funds for putting a new roof on the front, flat portion of the Egyptian (a re-coating of the existing roof was performed in mid 2014, but a new roof will be needed before 2020) and, possibly, to mount the Egyptian neon lighting symbols saved from the demolition of the old canopy/awning on the back wall of the Egyptian so that they can be seen from the City’s main parking area and beckon patrons to the Theatre.