Rosendale residents and folks just passing through on Route 213 alike have been wondering for the past three weeks or so what’s up with the Rosendale Theatre. Nightly film screenings are still being presented, but the “box office” now consists of a canvas canopy surmounting a small doorway on the east side of the building, in front of the Canaltown Alley building and behind the Big Cheese.
Out front, it’s a whole different story. Main Street sometimes gets narrowed down to a single lane to accommodate the construction vehicles and cordoned-off demolition zone where a magical transformation is underway. The entire façade of the beloved community cinema palace has been ripped open to make way for Phase I of the Rosendale Theatre Collective (RTC)’s master plan to make the space more aesthetically attractive, comfortable and user-friendly — especially to folks with mobility issues. RTC executive director Ann Citron and project manager Brandan Bachor of New Paltz-based Alfandre Architecture/EcoBuilders, Inc. recently gave the New Paltz Times a backstage hardhat tour of the renovation-in-progress.
“Phase I started the week of July 29 with the demolition of the front façade and asbestos abatement of the windows and doors,” Bachor explained. The old wooden siding and trim of the hundred-year-old structure were removed, exposing what in some areas proved to be rotten materials. Sound wood planking will be preserved, but the rest of the façade is being sheathed with “new plywood to give strength and provide a drainage plane,” he said. A layer of Typar building wrap covered by a layer of Home Slicker mesh will provide a hitherto-nonexistent vapor barrier and deter rot.
The outer skin will be “a fibercement product with a long warranty,” according to Bachor. “It will look like lap siding, fitting in with the fabric of the neighborhood.” The siding will eventually be painted dark red with almond-color trim above the new wood-frame marquee, which he termed a “transition zone,” with blue vertical siding below.
As long as the old façade was being stripped away, the architects decided to realign one of the window openings to make them a bit more symmetrical. “The top window in the gable was changed to a half-round, for aesthetic reasons and to help kick off the sunburst that’ll be in the gable. It’ll add a sense of style and detail.” Operable, energy-efficient Pella windows will replace the old ones, and Bachor notes that spray foam or blown-in cellulose insulation will be added to all wall cavities that may be opened up during the construction process. The theatre previously had no insulation whatsoever.
Structurally, the lobby entryway is being significantly strengthened. “The current entry was wood that had been degraded due to weather,” Bachor said. “The new entry will be all concrete.” The concrete pad for the framing of the entryway has already been poured, and structural steel columns installed that will support the weight of the façade above the door opening. Still to come is a concrete footing for a wheelchair ramp to the sidewalk that will make the lobby Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant. “Handicapped people accessing from the front can enter the Theatre just like anybody else does,” he promised.
Once inside, patrons will find that the layout of the lobby has not changed as a result of Phase I of the renovations. “We’re going to beef it up a bit, make it a little nicer with new carpet and new paint,” Citron explained, but the box office and concession stand will remain in their current configuration. Renovation of the two antiquated, non-handicapped-accessible bathrooms — the men’s in the lobby, the women’s in the back of the screening space — awaits additional funding during Phase II.
Passing into the theatre proper, one notices that part of the back row of seats has been removed on the extreme right-hand side, and a hole gapes where the old floor has been torn out to make room for another concrete pad to be poured. This will form the base for a wheelchair lift that will enable the mobility-impaired to access a spot to watch a movie without having to negotiate the steps that lead up to the two Theatre aisles.
Alfandre Architecture/EcoBuilders, Inc. have subcontracted most of the construction work on Phase I of the Rosendale Theatre renovations to Mountain Valley Builders, based in Olivebridge, and other subcontractors such as the electrician have also been “very locally sourced,” according to Citron. “That’s a philosophy that’s very much a part of who we are. This is how we happened: keeping it in the community!”
The targeted completion date for this round of renovations at the Rosendale Theatre is the end of September. For information on how you can “Adopt-a-Chair” or otherwise support RTC’s capital campaign, please visit https://rosendaletheatre.org or call 658-8989.