Students join renovation effort

February 17, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

The screech of power saws and the pounding of hammers filled the second floor of the old Capitol Theatre building in Chambersburg on Friday as professional trades people and technical school students framed walls and ceilings with 2-by-4s to get the space ready for sheet rock.

It's a small part of an overall $5 million effort - including new construction and renovation - to make over the second block of South Main Street in a project centered on the renewal of the 76-year-old Capitol Theatre.

Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., which bought the theater in 1996, said he expected the 25 volunteers to finish the interior framing project Friday.


Some 20 members of the Franklin County Builders Association representing eight local contractors showed up Friday morning. Included were carpenters, plumbers and heating and air conditioning technicians, said Gene Silver, executive officer of the Builders Association.

Also on hand were four juniors from the Franklin County Career and Technology Center's carpentry program, along with Steve Grove, their teacher.

"This is good work for them," Grove said. "It's different from new construction where everything is laid out for them."

Renovation work offers more challenges for the students.

"Here, nothing is level," Grove said. "They have to solve problems."

Andrew Ferguson was on a stepladder hammering a 2-by-4 into the ceiling.

"It's good to get out of the shop and do some hands-on training," he said.

Given a preference, he said, he'd choose new construction over renovation.

"You know what you're messing with," Ferguson said. "It's a lot easier."

Cullinane said the second-floor space has been rented to the Chambersburg Ballet Theatre School, a private school owned by Lavinia Reid. Only two of the three upstairs rooms were usable. The renovation will allow all three rooms, totaling 2,600 square feet, to be used by Reid's classes.

Seven buildings on South Main and West Washington streets were razed to make room for the new Capitol Theatre Center. Cullinane said the new facility will open by the end of May.

When finished, it will house - in addition to the restored Capitol Theatre - the Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts, Caledonia Theatre Co., Reid's ballet school and the Chambersburg Community Center.

A grand opening gala is scheduled June 7.

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