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Two years on theater restoration continues

June 8, 2012
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Scott Dressel has crawled through ceilings, hauled trash, painted walls and pleaded for financial donations and volunteers.

But on Thursday, the president of the Grand Theater Restoration Project sat down for a board of directors meeting in the refurbished lobby of the 87-year-old building on Fourth Street that was once home to live stage shows and countless hours of movies.

It was the first official event in the building since Dressel and the volunteers he enlisted began their efforts to save the former theater and restore it to its past glory.

Article Photos

Dave Gossett
MAKING PROGRESS — Scott Dressel, president of the Grand Theater Restoration Project, stands on the concrete risers that once held seats on the main floor of the Grand Theater. Dressel said the Fourth Street theater has been cleared of all debris and is now ready for restoration work.

"We are starting our third year of restoration, and at this point I am looking at another nine years before the entire project is completed. But I am satisfied. We have come a long way in two years," Dressel said.

"I don't get discouraged from all of the work. Yes, there are days when I am tired. But we have accomplished a lot in the past two years and look forward to the restoration work ahead of us," Dressel added.

The completed work list includes a new roof that stopped the rain from leaking into the theater section of the building, the donation of an adjacent building that will be used for a museum and mini-theater and the removal of all of the first floor seats.

"The smell in here left after the building was sealed and the seats were taken out. That was a big thing. We have had probably 200 volunteers at different times working to clean out the loose plaster and debris left in here. Now the theater is wide open and ready for the restoration work," explained Dressel.

"And another big step for us will be significant fundraisng. We did obtain a $96,000 Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund grant to be used for the removal of the small amount of asbestos in the building. And we continue to seek grants and funds from different organizations," Dressel said.

"We will also be completing the architectural drawings, and we continue to conduct engineering reviews of the building to make sure it will be ready for what we want to do in here," noted Dressel.

Dressel said he is planning to gain input from the Franciscan University of Steubenville drama department.

"We want to make sure the stage is right for performances in the future," he said.

"And we are looking at new seats. But that will be the last project in the restoration. I can't wait to put the new seats in here. It's like looking at new furniture. It's fun to buy new furniture. but you have to wait to bring it home," Dressel said.

"I am looking for board members who may want to do some volunteer work here. We need to do some weeding in front and the back of the building. We are also going to clean out the places in front of the theater where we can plant flowers. And I have two doors at the back of the building that need painting. And if anyone wants to take over decorating the display windows out, front please let me know," Dressel told the board.

And as his board of directors excitedly talked about plans for the future, Dressel sat back and smiled.

"I love these people. They have the same excitement for this project that I do," Dressel stated.

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