A crew from McMinnville Public Works slowly took the front off the Park Theatre on Wednesday and unveiled a shock — the building is in good shape.
Public Works director Bill Brock says he had braced himself for the worst prior to work beginning.
“I was told some horror stories about what we would find,” said Brock. “From the damage done by the fire, to the effort used to place the metal, I have heard all kinds of horror stories. None of them have been true. The building is in pretty good shape. I’m pleasantly surprised.”
Removed from the building was the metal placed over the original facade and the covering placed over the marquee. The marquee held a buried secret.
“The original lights are still there,” said Brock. “You would think they would have clipped the wires and removed them before covering it, but they didn’t. It seems they removed the bulbs, but left the wires.”
Public Works blocked off one lane of traffic on Main Street and at least one member of Park Theatre Group, the organization that spent 10 years trying to generate the funds to renovate the building, was in attendance.
“We wanted to document this process,” said Sandra Haynes, president of the organization, as she took pictures of the work. “It’s a great day for Park Theatre.”
Haynes says members have waited for years for this, but were weary of what would be discovered.
“We wanted to do this years ago, but we were worried about what we would find,” she said. “The building seems to be in good shape.”
Also uncovered were small windows that had been blocked off and covered by metal. Haynes says she was not aware of any windows under the metal covering.
“Maybe they were for the balcony seats,” she said.
Officials removed the front of the building so project engineer Peter Mets could better determine its condition and the work that needs to be done to restore it.