When someone walked into the Grand Theatre over a decade ago he or she immediately knew who had last flocked into the once-opulent building … pigeons. Bird droppings and heaps of timbers and roofing detritus littered the lobby and once high-ceilinged auditorium. The Grand Theatre, opened in 1919 and once host to the who’s who of Vaudeville, was but a ghost of a glamorous past. We welcome you to participate in her re-birth. The following is an itemization of work to complete restoration & rehabilitation of the Grand Theatre in phases. An overview chart of the estimated restoration timeline shows our yearly goals for the restoration. The duration of each phase will be determined by the success of fund raising efforts. The scope of work and/or ordering of phases may be shifted to accommodate specified donations and respond to opportunities for utilization of the property

The Grand was a project of the Lyric Amusement Company and was built at a cost of $250,000. The Theatre, which was constructed of reinforced steel and concrete and featured a terra cotta facing, opened its doors as the largest movie theatre between Los Angeles and Texas on January 25, 1919.

Phase I

Establish commercial occupancy to stabilize property’s economic and physical condition.

Restore two store fronts. Complete
Rehabilitate shop interiors. Complete
Construct shared accessible restroom. Complete
Reactivate electrical service – 200 amp service installed on building. Complete
Install new circuit panel, and complete electrical circuiting to both store front offices, and movie marquee. Complete
Install 2 zone split system ductless heat pump mechanical unit
General clean up. Complete
Reactivate City of Douglas Water and Sewer services. Complete
Relocate organ and console from church to Theatre basement. Complete
Secure windows and openings to prevent varmint infiltration. Complete

Phase II

– Expand commercial occupancy to provide practical DAHA administrative and work space for continuation of restoration/rehabilitation.

Clear debris out of balcony/basement/mezzanine/stage/lobby and entry porch. Complete
Rehabilitate basement for Comercial Space. Complete
Rehabilitate covered entry, lobby, mezzanine for commercial space – community meeting room, museum, members room/museum, office. Demolition, rough-in electrical, plumbing and framing Complete

Construct second accessible restroom. Complete
Install permanent 200 amp electrical service with capacity to serve entire building during the construction process. Complete
Install split system heat pump mechanical units in Candy Store. Complete
Apply weather proofing membrane at balcony floor and weather closures as balcony entrances. Complete
Rebuild and Light GRAND flag sign. Complete

Phase III

– Address structural issues to bring the Grand Theatre to 2009 IBC seismic code for category 2 earthquake zone and enclose building with new roof.

Structural engineering calculations – Complete
Construction and shop drawings – Partially Complete
Elevator system design – Partially Complete
Concrete work for footings, grade beam, sheer walls, balcony support walls, ledger and horizontal sheer as stage level – Complete
Stairways (concrete structural components designed into the seismic constructs – Complete
Steel buttress and roof system for auditorium – Partial/Footings and bolts in place

Phase IV

– Historic and theater space renovations.

Analysis of terra cotta and decorative plaster – Complete
Decorative plaster renovation in lobby – Partially complete
Analysis and design of performing arts space (auditorium, stage, sub-stage spaces are designed in concert with seismic structural specifications). Design concept Complete, working/shop drawings Partially Complete
Decorative plaster renovation in auditorium. Removal, mold-making, casting and archiving begun
Restoration of exterior lobby entrance. Partially Complete
Restoration of marquee. Not begun
Restoration of terra cotta facade. Not Begun
900 – amp commercial electrical service. Not begun
Basement and auditorium floor, walls, balconies, ancillary third floor rooms/spaces. Not begun
Life safety (Fire code) system and exit design. Partially Complete

The Theatre’s Decline and Restoration

The theatre closed in 1958 and was vacant for decades. The roof caved in due to clogged gutters and, as a result, the infrastructure was virtually destroyed.

In the 1980s several prominent Douglas residents, including Floy Mae King and others, bought the Grand for $1.00 and decided to try and restore it to its past glory. They formed a non-profit corporation, the Douglas Arts and Humanities Association, whose focus has been the restoration of the Grand Theatre, which is designated as an historic site by the United States government.

The cost of a full restoration is estimated at $9.5 million but the value of the Grand Theatre to Southern Arizona and to Douglas is priceless. The Douglas Arts and Humanities Association believes it is too important a building to lose without a fight. The building is an important part of Douglas’ past and could very well be a key part of its economic and cultural future.