Morning Sun
  • Work in progress

  • The curtain is about ready to rise again, at least on a limited scale, for the Colonial Fox Theater in downtown Pittsburg.

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  • The curtain is about ready to rise again, at least on a limited scale, for the Colonial Fox Theater in downtown Pittsburg.
    With hopes for an occupancy permit on the horizon and events anticipated this year, public relations and marketing director Sarah Jensen said the project has reached a major milestone in repaying the community’s investment of trust in the project.
    Jensen said the hope is that the facility will receive an occupancy permit, which will allow the theater to be open for limited programming and for groups of up to 200 people.
    This then would allow the public to see how far the project has come as well as the work that remains.
    One of the major improvements in the works is a brand new entryway, which will include use of the historic ticket booth and the installation of a glass wall to help protect the entryway from the elements while staying true to the original design, which was open to the back wall of the current entry.
    Other phase 5 improvements include major electrical work, repairs to the building’s east facade, demolition of the HVAC system and select other demolition.
    The work is constant. New circuit breaker panels for the electrical system were installed within the last couple of weeks, and the old HVAC system was recently pulled out.
    Jensen said the occupancy permit hinges, in part, on the completion of projects that are considered life safety issues, which are situations that could be problematic if not addressed prior to opening to the public.
    Executive director Vonnie Corsini said it is important to the public to know that pieces of their history, such as the Fox, are being restored.
    “We need to begin to look for opportunities to safeguard these existing heritage resources that call on people’s memories,” Corsini said.
    Jensen described individuals coming into the theater where they saw their first film, had their first kiss or went on their first date with their spouse of 50 years, and said the restorations evoke emotions.
    “Colonial Fox has dear memories,” she said. “These memories have been carrying us through this long process.”
    She said seeing the results could give the project an added, and needed, wave of support.
    “Part of that is getting them into the building so they can see,” Jensen said. “We want people to see we’re making improvements, but that there is still a lot to be done.”
    “Occupancy will get us there,” Corsini added.
    The project of renovating the 1920 building, which began with the purchase of the theater in 2007 shortly before it was scheduled for demolition, has been completed in phases, which align construction projects with fundraising goals.
    “It’s important to the community, but we’ve had to build the community’s trust that we will do what we say we’re going to do,” Jensen said.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Because of our funding restraints, we have to piece it together in phases,” she added.
    The organization currently is in phase 5 of the project and is funding life safety and other renovations through a matching grant from the National Parks Service called Save America’s Treasures.
    Money raised locally or through some other grants is credited toward a match from the parks service.
    “As we do construction, we’re able to draw down the amount we have spent,” Jensen said.

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