Allow me to continue my wandering thoughts regarding the acquisition and restoration of the historic State Theater. Perhaps our most significant project in the theater has been the restoration of the beacon-shaped neon blade that stands guard over the building.
While I can’t see Russia from my window, I enjoy seeing the blade from my high perch north of the city as it welcomes nightfall each evening. To me, the Blinking Blade sends a message that the State Theater is back and it’s here to stay.
Restoring a rapidly declining 75-year-old theater is a complicated endeavor that requires engineering and construction expertise. Fortunately, we’ve covered these areas from day one. At the time we replaced the blade, structural engineer Steve Judson was on our board of directors.
Even before the purchase of the theater, local building contractor and board member Brandon Minch was our facilities manager. Brandon has been involved in overseeing and implementing virtually every restoration project we have completed to date. Steve and Brandon were both instrumental in completing the State Theater Blade which was built and installed by Alpha Engineering of Sacramento.
With the completion on how to file bankruptcy of the Blade Project, with permission from the city, we closed Oak Street from Main Street to Washington Street on a beautiful spring evening when several hundred community members stood on Oak Street and counted up. when the blade is switched on.
Apart from this last year when our awful pandemic closed our doors, the blade has shone brightly every night, rain or shine. Fortunately, as I write this column, the blade is once again lighting up our night sky.
Since that exciting event, with the support of this wonderful community, we have undertaken and completed many other restoration projects. With my apologies to those whom I no doubt forget to list, allow me to share with you many of the improvements we have made, as well as the groups and individuals who have supported these projects with financial contributions and in nature.
Bunny’s Concession Stand: When we took over the theater, the beautiful lobby once housed a concession stand that looked like it was built by someone like me. It was bad, bad, bad.
With financial support from a family wishing to remain anonymous, we enlisted the services of Tehama Probation County AB109 Carpentry Program where, for the cost of materials, Mike Shaffer and his team designed and created the most beautiful booth in mahogany concession you will never see. We thank Mike, his team and our confidential donors.
Popcorn Machine: If you own a state-of-the-art concession stand, then you must own a high-end popcorn machine as well. Thanks to Harry and Betty Dudley, who donated two of these machines, along with enough popcorn to last a lifetime.
State Theater Stage: One of the major improvements to the theater was the completion of the Haleakala Stage. Twice the size of the original stage, it was built by Doug Magee and the Bear Creek contractor team at no cost to the State Theater. Materials for the project were donated by Tony Ingolia of Redding, with additional help from Fred Richelieu, Brandon Grissom and John Miller. Thanks everyone; the scene is perfect.
Haleakala Stage Curtain System: With a whole new stage, it was only fitting that we fitted it with some beautiful new curtains. Thanks to the generosity of Rose Crain and her family, the Haleakala Stage now has the most beautiful curtain system you can imagine.
Sound, lighting and cinema screen: About a year after opening our doors, we received a grant from the McConnell Fund to increase and update our lighting and sound system, as well as to install a cinema screen. suitable for showing films. Our sound and lighting system was then upgraded to include spotlights thanks to a donation from one of our major donors, Pat Jenkins.
Piano Acquisition: A concert hall is not a concert hall unless you have a suitable grand piano. I am proud to say that thanks to the generous contributions of Lou and JoAnn Bosetti, Harry and Betty Dudley, Bill and Billie Cornelius, Mark Garstang, Janis Knight, Mel and Jean Oldham, Carmel Growney, John Growney, JoAn and Frank Spanfelner, Kiwanis Club , Harlan and Joan Warwick, David and Kathleen Spanfelner, Gary and Leenie Napier, Jane Flynn, Dennis and Maggie Murray, daughters of Richard Forward, Larry and Suzie Champion, Gretchen Sherman, Fred and Terese Ehrensvard, Tom Wulfort, Mike and Chris Growney, Ron and Susan Clark, Debra Franseth and Jeffrey Ross, Andre and Shanan Scheutz and Bill Ellison, the historic State Theater is now home to a magnificent Schimmel grand piano valued at over $ 80,000.
Phone Booth Restoration: With financial support from Jean Moran and Mary B Schwab, the AB109 carpentry team restored the State Theater phone booth to look like it was when I was young .
Auditorium Restoration: Perhaps the biggest issue we faced in acquiring the theater was dealing with the downright horrendous scars on the walls and ceiling of the Lindauer Auditorium resulting from the conversion of private property. from the theater to a triplex cinema complex in the 1980s.
The sad fact is that the State Theater, with the best acoustics north of the Bay Area, was designed and built to serve as a single screen movie and performing arts venue. The conversion to a triplex movie theater was doomed to failure and did nothing but damage its grandeur as it was originally designed and built.
In addition to damaging the auditorium by building ill-advised walls inside, decades of smoking in the theater had taken its toll on the magnificent ceiling and side murals depicting scantily clad maidens riding magnificent white horses. winged.
In next week’s column, I’ll share the remarkable story of how in one summer the Lindauer Auditorium was rehabilitated and restored to look and act as it did on opening day in 1946.
Happy Wednesday everyone.
Bill Cornelius is a longtime Red Bluff resident, retired chief probation officer, State Theater champion and outstanding athlete. He can be contacted at [email protected]