Those who have spent large amounts of time in the 7th St. Theatre may be accustomed to the constant hum of the building’s heating system — a hum so loud that the machinery is turned off during concerts.
The system keeps the theater at a chilly 55 degrees for most of the day, just warm enough to deter growth of mold and mildew, and the heat is cranked up to about 70 degrees before performances.
The theater’s board of directors is looking for a new heating system and hoping to use some some vintage equipment from when the 7th St. Theatre was built in 1928. Mickey Thurman, vice president of the board, said updating the system will cost about $215,000.
Thurman said the new heating system will be composed of the theater’s original blower, a hefty piece of equipment located in the attic but not currently used, and four new gas furnaces. Although the 1928 blower is much older than the current system, it is also much quieter than the one installed in the 1990s.
The board has also had difficulties finding replacement parts for the current system, which was only built to last about 15 years.
“It’s pretty cool that we get to utilize a piece of original, historical equipment,” Thurman said. “It’s a really neat project.”
The Grays Harbor Community Foundation contributed $25,000 to the project, and the board has set aside $30,000 in funds. Another organization, the Murdock Trust, informed the board that it must raise 35 percent of the project cost — $75,250 — before applying for a grant. The Cheney Foundation, another potential source, said the board must raise 50 percent of the funds before applying for a grant.
The 7th St. Theatre Association Board of Directors is currently accepting donations from citizens and businesses to fund the project.
This isn’t the first renovation the theater has undergone in recent years. All of the seats have been replaced, rigging has been reconstructed and a new sign was hung on the front of the building. Volunteer Lane Youmans said all of these projects have been important to maintain the character of one of Hoquiam’s most beloved buildings.
“I used to come here with my mother every Saturday,” Youmans said. “I used to wonder who changed the bulbs in the stars and who watered the trees. Well, I know now that the trees are fake. And I’m the one who changes the bulbs.”
Those interested in getting a glimpse of the theater, which is one of 12 remaining “atmospheric design” theaters in the country, meaning it gives the impression of an open air theater, can attend movie showings hosted monthly. “The Manchurian Candidate”will be shown Nov. 9 and 10, and “Home Alone” will be shown Nov. 29 and 30. For a full list of theater events, visit www.7thstreettheater.com.