Sprinklers rain down on Patricia

Water causes quick change in Aurora Festival plans

Published: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 8:49 AM PDT Powell River Peak Newspaper

In the early hours of the Friday, August 29, workday, the auditorium, balcony and concession areas of the Patricia Theatre suffered a deluge of catastrophic proportions when one, single fire suppression sprinkler head in the attic failed.

Hundreds of gallons of water sprayed into the attic, then gradually migrated through the lath and plaster ceilings, down the stairwells and through the floors.

Powell River emergency services responded to the alarm phoned in by a passerby who heard the sprinkler system's flow alarm ringing in the foyer of the building.

"By the time the SJS Restoration crew had bagged all the sodden insulation, dropped it down to the auditorium floor through a hole cut in the ceiling, then lugged it out and hauled it away, there were nearly five tonnes of waste," said Ann Nelson, of the Patricia. "Ruined carpet, stressed electrical service and damaged seats, as well as water damage to speakers, murals, wallpaper, and PA systems have emerged as they've slogged their way through the mess."

The theatre will remain closed until emergency repairs can be completed and permanent repairs can be scheduled to make the auditorium safe again for the public.

"The good news is that the water never touched the new "Silver" screen, the array of speakers behind the screen, nor the equipment in the projection booth," said Nelson. "The bad news is that it could be some weeks before the community can resume catching the flicks at the Pat and that all the Aurora Festival events scheduled for the Patricia venue have had to be re-located to Dwight Hall."

Friends of the Historic Patricia Theatre Society will be meeting this week to explore ways to support the theatre through the process of reclamation and restoration.

Ann's Update September 4, 2014

Well, as far updates go, it's pretty slim pickin's.

They've hauled out 4 tonnes of sodden insulation and carpet and stuff and have 'leventy jillion dehumidifiers, blowers and extractors blasting away in the attic and auditorium, with fuses blowing like popcorn and our electrician, Henri, pulling out his hair.

No one can give us a firm date yet when the actual repairs can start, and how long those will take once started: so much depends on keeping the building safe and keeping the people who come to the events safe.

Realistically, we're probably looking at 2-maybe 5 weeks and I've got every digit I own crossed to will us to be up by the Rossander World Documentary Festival in October.

Stay tuned for further news as it breaks.

Ann's Update September 19, 2014

Doubt that the Patricia has looked so naked since the renovations that were started in 2000 stripped out all the seats from the auditorium and all the carpet from the lobby!

The marvellous team from SJS has finished all the drying out of the attic, the wall cavities and the seats, and now are working on emptying the auditorium so the scaffolding required can be set up for ceiling repairs as soon as possible.

So far, over 5 tonnes of sodden insulation, carpet, linoleum and donnacona board has made its way to Augusta, and all of the new acoustic panels installed in the 2012 sound upgrade have been successfully salvaged and stored off site: soon to be joined by the 300 seats, reduced to their component parts.

Some amazing historical details have been revealed in the stripping back of layers of paneling and peeling paint/wallpaper: trying to get some good photos of the original paint scheme and stencilling on the balcony and the pilasters that's been revealed, and will then post them on this website.

Until the ceiling repairs actually commence (maybe next week?), I can't project a firm timeline for completion, but measurements and quotes for the carpet and lino replacement are ready, our acoustic engineer is working on sourcing a contemporary replacement for the failed donnacona board, and ... drumroll, fanfare ... the old boiler has been cut into dinosaur bone sized pieces and hauled out of the boiler room so that Tempco can complete the installation of our high efficiency natural gas boiler next week.

We've been working on this conversion for nearly a year and have been stymied by fact the building was literally finished around the boiler and there was no way to get the component pieces out intact so they could be re-purposed for someone else's project.

Nearly there now, right in the middle of the restoration push!

Ann's Update October 21, 2014

Well, it's been a while since my last update about the Patricia's convalescence so it's time to catch up. As Nina reported, week 6 since the flood saw stuff actually coming IN the doors, rather being hauled out: Hallelujah!!!

So, here we are in the middle of week 8 and the excellent Michaud-St Pierre team has gotten an amazing amount of repairs completed and are now focused on the auditorium, with Kathy painting the completed Concession area.

Weeks of frustration trying to match and replace the wallpaper that had been installed in the enormous ceiling cove in 2000 have resulted in abandoning the search for wallpaper altogether (you have no idea how hard it is to find it these days) in favour of re-creating the original painted faux finish that the wallpaper had replicated: Yahoo!!

Whitney's started on the mural repairs and figuring out how the crew's going to achieve the look we want with the faux finish AND making it all work with the murals and our newly restored sky and cloud ceiling that will finally finish the atmospheric murals.

Got the linoleum and carpet ordered and the donnacona board ordered and on it goes.

One lousy, rotten, miserable little sprinkler head fails, and causes weeks of repairs: we're all determined that, by hook or by crook, the rest of those 39 sprinkler heads in the attic will be changed out before we re-open, or else.

The baby grand piano got moved into storage with all the seats, so never fear, it's in good hands.

A friend of the theatre thinks he may have a solution for resurfacing the auditorium floors, which will be needed for sure after all the scuffling around with the forest of scaffolding (you wouldn't believe your eyes if we could let you in to see it!), so that we can finally have a surface that won't flake off into the mop water, while it repels all efforts to repaint.

A person could go crazy with impatience except that there've been some unexpected bonuses along the way, like actually seeing the original paint and stenciling revealed for the first time in 60 years and confirming that the original ceiling paint was, indeed, blue, with wisps of clouds all over.

We're still aiming for re-opening at the end of November or so, because there's still a lot to do, but finally, it's all moving forward.

In the meantime, the Friends of the Pat have organized a Revival House Classics mini-series at the Evergreen Theatre every week, so we can deal with our cinema withdrawal symptoms by enjoying at least one film each week

Ann's Update November 7, 2014

Been a while since an update, so here goes: you want to talk about hurry-up-and-wait!

The whole process of trying to get the Theatre back up and running feels like we're hurrying to find products, suppliers, tradespeople and approvals from insurance, then we're waiting for the arrival of the products, the availability of the tradespeople and more authorizations.

It's what comes with the territory when you have a heritage building that has some really specific requirements for restoration and I'm told over and over that we're doing really well with getting things crossed off the neverending lists.

All credit and thanks for that goes to our excellent team and the support of the restoration contractor and the insurance people!

So, last week, we had the challenge of incompatible paint formulations and 1951 paint that had become brittle and was refusing to maintain its bond with the original 1928 paint, so, just imagine, if you will, the frustration of the team a week ago last Monday finally getting to start applying primer to the gouged out, filled, and sanded ceiling, and the primer plus 2 coats of old paint was just turning loose and wrapping itself around the rollers like peeling a bad sunburn!

Thanks to everyone who weighed in with suggestions for damage control ( thanks Bill, et al) The team managed to quell the rebellion and make all the layers get along with each other again and FINALLY get the sky blue onto the ceiling. Then, create a recipe for a painted/sponged faux finish that would work for the 1000 square feet of ceiling cove, and having to call in yet more favours from friends (thanks Judi) to bootleg some gold paint from Home Depot for us to give it that elegant finish.

It's 2/3rd's done now and looks fantastic: far better than the wallpaper that was installed in 2000, and it's a genuine, hand applied finish...gotta love restorations when they actually work!

Whitney's finished the mural repairs and this weekend should get to re-create the plumes that originally adorned the proscenium face.

We're going to get a chance to dust down the velvet main drapes and swags while the scaffolding is erected over the orchestra pit and try to move the electric motor from the now unused traveler rail to the main drape rail, then we'll get to enjoy the 86 year old curtains swishing elegantly open and closed for every show again.

It's going to be a scramble to get everything installed as it finally arrives, but we're still aiming for re-opening on the 28th ( aaacckkk....only 3 weeks from today), or at the latest, the 5th. Stay tuned: we're really feeling like we've finally turned a corner...not quite the home stretch, but the next to last corner !

Ann's Update November 8, 2014

The Friends of the Historic Patricia Theatre's Revival House Classic Film series has now ended.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to enjoy a hit of classic cinema with us all at the Evergreen, and thanks to the City's Leisure Services & Recreation staff for helping us make this happen.

Unfortunately, the very limited selection of films available through the Patricia's licensing agreements for an alternate venue screening, and the high costs for licensing those few films, has defeated our little series.

The Pat is nearing the home stretch with the flood damage repairs, so it won't be long now before we can experience the full cinematic experience again, complete with popcorn!

Ann's Update November 18, 2014

So, this weekend I asked Brian if he could think of ANY thing, that could get in the way of us counting on a December 5th reopening, with the new Hunger Games movie.

We agreed that we both thought we were pretty much on target at this point: ceiling almost finished; new lino going into the Concession area, practically as we speak; all the donnacona installed on the main floor and balcony rail face, only the balcony back wall yet to do.

Scaffolding would be coming out mid-week, so the scouring and grinding and prep of the auditorium floor could start then and first coat of epoxy on and curing by the weekend.

Henry's back, and sorting out the damaged electrical; more of the sprinkler heads will be changed out before we reopen so we don't have to worry about attic floods again; insulation going in on schedule; etc., etc.

You see where I'm going with this, right? What could possibly go wrong now? No more cans of worms to open up in the old walls, no more surprises, no more foraging for exotic paints or fabrics, etc.

Ha! ZOT, and the fickle finger of fate answers that question resoundingly last night: Brian developed an abcessed tooth which necessitated a very early morning trip to the dentist, mega drugs, proscriptions from handling sharp objects or climbing scaffolding, etc.

So, at the risk of sounding like a really, really bad mom, I hope the drugs work and he's able to get back to work tomorrow and we're back on track, having lost only one or two days.

This is the plan right now:
Hunger Games starting December 5th;
St. Vincent starting December 12th;
The Hobbit starting December 17th;
Big Hero 6 starting December 26th;

... and on we go Interstellar, Night at the Museum, Into the Woods, Fury....lots of good stuff coming up after that, too.

One more update, then it'll be show time, folks!! ...and thanks for all the support and positive thoughts throughout this restoration.

Ann's Update December 1, 2014

O.K.....this is it: really, for sure, finally....it's late at night, surely to God the ficked wairies have all been confined to their lairs for the day and can't throw any more spanners into the works, so it should be safe to make one, last update!

Scaffolding got moved out about a week and a half later than we'd hoped ( construction is construction, and "firm" time lines are a mug's game), so the whole scouring, filling, sanding and coating of the auditorium floor started much later than we'd hoped, but Jay has compressed the curing time somehow, so the seats will be hauled back from storage on Wednesday for reassembly, cleaning and reinstallation.

The floor looks so pretty now, and will be much easier to keep clean.

Was just talking to another one of my talented volunteer crew about how much this is starting to feel like a typical seat-of-the-pants amateur theatre production: I swear, we'll still be drying paint with a hair dryer and hiding stuff out of view when it's time to open the doors on Friday.

Because of the delays in getting the flooring issues solved, both epoxy coatings and lino/carpet, we're going to be cutting it really fine, and may not be able to get all 260 seats installed for Friday night: but, we'll keep working right through the daytimes this weekend to complete everything while we're still showing Hunger Games each night!

Much as we would have loved the great big splashy and polished Vanna White, ta-da moment, it will more likely be a raggedy-assed 99% done, with more to come, but at least we're OPEN moment!

Expecting to be swarmed with electrician, sprinkler technicians, restoration cleaning crew, lino/carpet installer, seat assembly crew, and crew schlepping stuff back into the building, all at once on Wednesday ... bring on the joyous chaos! ....and then, as if that were not enough, we're aiming at getting some of the Christmasing done, too, while supplies are being delivered and stowed.

Woo hoo...13 weeks later, and we're almost there. Thanks to everyone for their support and good wishes.... so looking forward to sharing popcorn and movies with everyone again.

Photos from the repairs

Thank you thank you thank you,
Tristan Wolf for the photos!
Click any picture to enlarge.

Late-November pics

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Mid-November pics

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Early-November pics

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Since 1913 · The longest running movie theatre in Canada

5848 Ash Avenue, Powell River, BC V8A 4R6
(604) 483-9345 : : : FAX:(604) 483-9346