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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 10 (x)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 10
Page 10

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 10

mortar or soluble matter such as calcium, magnesium sulfates and salts contained in brick and mortar. Contact with dry air or the suns heat evaporates the moisture, leaving a deposit of these crystallized minerals on the surface of the Wall. Giving an appearance of frost, this deposit is called efflorescence. As the process continues, great deterioration of the mortar and bricks may result. Efflorescence may be removed with a stiff wire brush and an acid wash. Before any repointing is done, the surface should be washed and rinsed with clear water.

Large quantities of sulphur dioxide are dispersed into the atmosphere by the burning of coal; and snow, rain and fog will carry and build up a concentration of sulphur dioxide upon the building so that it becomes an active chemical agent in attacking or hastening deterioration. This particularly accelerates the corrosion of iron and steel members exposed to the weather. Where some disintegration of brick and mortar has begun due to other causes, sulphur dioxide deposits will Speed up the rate of decay.

Masonry is gradually worn away by the weathering action of snow, rain, hail, ice and wind, sudden temperature changes, and the heat of the sun. To repair the damage caused by weathering, defects in brickwork, crumbling mortar or open joints should be raked clean and carefully tuck-pointed with freshly made mortar, using special care to close the vertical joints. Fissures in copings or ledges should be sealed with mortar or a plaster caulking compound after sufu ficient material has been removed to insure a bond through the use of enough filler to anchor and adhere to the brick or stone.

Inspecting the Ceiling

All too often the newspapers carry accounts of patrons injured by falling plaster or whole sections of auditorium ceilings. In old theatres, the suspended plaster ceiling is a constant source of danger, especially if heavy, old-fashioned chandeliers are suspended from the ceiling, or if the decorative motif includes heavy relief designs in plaster. Usually, such ceilings are supported on wooden lath and wooden joists which run from truss to truss, with some hanging supports in between them. Careful attention must be given to the plaster keys between the laths and to any sections of the ceiling which may have been exposed to water leakage from the roof. It may be found that the heavy plaster decorative work was merely fistuck" in place, rather than secured properly with wire through the lath.

Because of its inaccessibility, the ceiling of the auditorium is a tough location to inspect. Generally, all it takes is a rolling scaffold, a long probing pole, and a competent inspector to appraise sufficiently the extent of repair work required.

Checking the Wiring

ln checking over almost any theatre in preparation for a major remodeling, the wiring system will be found to violate almost every safety measure in the books. Circuits are overloaded, wires are


improperly insulated, and metal raceways are in poor condition. Such conditions constitute a continual fire menace, and call for immediate remedy. In the preliminary inspection, preferably with the assistance of a first class electrician, the wiring system must be carefully examined for safety as well as for entry as an item in the remodeling budget. Many old theatres are still equipped with the outmoded knob-and-tube system, with open wiring, and, in the interests of safety, such systems should be completely supplanted by a modern system of conduit and insulated wire to comply with the national electric code and local regulations.

The Heating System

The theatreis heating plant is another major consideration on the inspection schedule. The heating system may require a new boiler, modern, efficient radiation, and a replacement of supply and return lines, thereby representing a big item on the budget. Special attention must be given the return lines, even though the rest of the heating system apparently is in good operating condition. In most theatres, the boiler is either under the stage or below the lobby. It is often found that the original builders, in the interests of economy, installed steam returns below the auditorium floor; not in trenches or other accessible places, but simply in the soil. If such piping has not already been replaced, provision for replacement should most certainly be included in the remodeling program.

The Balcony

If there is a balcony, a careful check must be made to determine the structural strength of the supporting members. Also, in regard to the balcony, new requirements in local codes pertaining to fire escapes and additional stairways should be read over with a view toward including the required alterations in the budget.

Consulting Experts

The roof, ceiling, electrical and heating systems, and balcony structures are items on the inspection schedule which may represent major alterations in the building, and in their examination the assistance and authoritative advice of experienced technicians is required. The theatre operator can determine for himself the extent of remodeling he desires in such items as the front, lobby, rest rooms, seating, carpeting, draperies, lounges, and the like, for he is not compelled by law to meet any standards of comfort, attractiveness or luxury of appointments. But again, the consultation with experts, men experienced in equipping and decorating theatres, will invariably result in getting the most out of the remodeling dollar when plans for the project are set up.

Scheduling the Work

Once the theatre has been surveyed from roof to basement and the scope of the modernization program has been determined, a plan of operation will have to be established in order to reduce to a 'minimum any time requiring the closing of the theatre. Of course, a large

part of the work can be done without interrupting operations. Major alterations should not require closing for more than from 10 days to two weeks, provided the work has been properly scheduled, and the schedule is followed.

With electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other workers laboring overtime, as will very probably be the case if alterations are to be completed within the two-week period when the theatre is closed, labor costs may seem to run high, but will not be as high as the cost of stretching out the work for weeks with the house in operation.

If the modernization is to entail but a little construction work, and consist of redecorating, re-seating, re-carpeting, and the like, this can be accomplished with performances going on as usual, again with proper scheduling. In the case of major alterations, those which might involve installation of a new front and signs, new flooring, structural changes in the auditorium, or new seating, equipment must be ordered as far in advance as posssible so that manufactured items and all materials will be ready for the work to proceed on a definite date. With definite delivery dates for equipment set, the contractors in the various trades to be employed in the project can set up their schedules for work to be completed on the premises. A carefully planned timetable at the start of the project will cut to a minimum the time in which the theatre may have to be torn up, and the consequenv tial inconvenience to patrons and loss of revenue. It is a good idea to employ contractors who make a specialty of theatre work as they are especially aware that the theatre must be opened as soon as possible, and are best acquainted with the problems of theatre remodeling.

Where remodeling does not include much actual construction work, the job can be done Without interfering with the regular operation of the theatre. Seats may be removed and replaced in sections between closing time one evening and time for opening next day.


The roof merits special attention in the remodeling project and in subsequent maintenance programs because. while it is subject the greatest amount of deterioration from the weather of the entire building and is often I! source of serious trouble when allowed to remain in disrepair for long periods of time. it is probably the most neglected part of the theatre structure. In putting the roof in firstclass condition, an understanding of methods and materials is essential to perform the job efficiently and economically.

Roofs and roofing materials vary greatly with different designs of theatre buildings. Pitched roofs, that is, roofs with steep angles of slope have a sheathing or deck of wood, to which are attached small units lapping one over the other to make a watertight covering.

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 10