Renovations Underway At The Bing Crosby Theater | Community Spirit
The Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane is a few years away from turning 100 years old and thanks to new owners, it will be in fine shape for the celebration.
Jerry Dicker and his wife bought the historic building earlier this year.
Built in 1915 as the Clemmer Theatre, it was among the first "Palace" theaters constructed in America. It was built by Spokane businessman August Paulsen to bring silent movies to the masses.
The opulence of The Bing and other palace theaters was to clean up the image and reputation of the movie industry.
In the 1930's it became known as The State and remained a fixture of Spokane's nightlife until 1985 when it was purchased by Metropolitan Mortgage, remodeled and renamed The Met.
"Last time it was touched was probably 25 years ago so it really needed it," said Jared Mauer of Mauer Construction, the company that's working on the renovation.
When Metropolitan Mortgage went out of business in 2004, Spokane businessman Mitch Silver came to its rescue and kept it open.
It was renamed The Bing Crosby Theater in 2006 when a group of citizens raised the money for a new marquee and Silver went along with the plan.
Today there are no plans to rename the theater, only to restore it.
"Originally we were going to just fix the roof and HVAC and throw some paint on it," said Mauer. "But as with a lot of projects it ends up a little more."
One of the new features that people see when they first walk into the theater is the concessions stand.
Mauer designed and built it at his workshop and then installed it with energy efficient LED lights.
"Everything we've been doing is LED to save energy," said Mauer.
Another idea of Mauers' is an LED T-V menu mounted behind the concession stand that's controlled with an iPod.
The aging wall paper in the lobby of the building will be replaced and a High Definition projector will be mounted in the theater.
A new, larger screen will be added to the stage to bring movies back to the theater.
Outside, crews cleaned, treated and sealed the exterior tile and brick work.
"It had a lot of black crud built up over the years," said Mauer.
The windows and trim will all be repainted.
The original murals still adorn the inside of the theater, one of which had to be repaired.
"Before we fixed the roof it was leaking so bad that water came down and damaged the mural."
Mauer says he loves to work on old buildings and sees opportunity to add to the ambiance of the theater.
"This would be pretty cool with an open stairway going up," said Mauer as he talked about extending the second floor Benefactors room up to the third and fourth floor.
Right now there is about 3,000 square feet of unused space on the third and fourth floors.
The space, on the Sprague side of the building, is only accessible through an old back stairway but Mauer sees it as a place to bring something unique to the theater and to Spokane, just like the theater did in 1915.