October 22nd, 2019

Monarch Theatre needs external repair

By GILLIAN SLADE on September 14, 2019.

Restoration on the rear wall of The Monarch Theatre is about to take on this heritage building located on Second Street downtown. Mo Roberts (left), chair of The Monarch Theatre committee and vice-chair of the City Centre Development Agency, stands in the entrance of the movie theatre with  Robin Anton, operations manager.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

The Monarch Theatre’s rear wall is going to be repaired and restored.

The heritage building on Second Street downtown is showing its age if you take a walk down the back lane and look at the main wall.

The mortar has been falling out of the heritage brick wall that was built more than 100 years ago. Even some of the bricks need to be replaced. Because of its historical status and the wall being one of the defining features, restoration had to be carefully planned to stay within a limited budget, said Mo Roberts, chair of the Monarch Theatre committee and vice-chair of the City Centre Development Agency.

“Friends of the Monarch have been helpful in assisting through the money they raise,” said Robin Anton, operations manager.

Anton says the cost will be about $50,000 and will be paid for with help from Friends of the Monarch, a grant through the provincial Historic Resource Committee and a defined loan payment that the city approved last year.

The project was tendered and bids received. The contractor is currently working on matching the exiting mortar before work starts. There are even some reclaimed bricks to use as necessary.

Roberts says they do have some concerns about the possibility of other issues/repairs coming to light during the process.

“We are being cautious to stay within the scope of work due to budgeting restrictions,” said Roberts.

Once work starts it should only take about a month to complete and will not affect the use of the building.

“We’re excited about it. It’s something that needs to be done,” said Roberts, while surveying the face of the brick wall outside.

Anton says the roof may be the next project but hopefully that will not be required for another two years.

For anyone who has grown up in the community the Monarch Theatre has been part of life for a long time. Roberts says many will remember it as the movie theatre where they first held hands with a boyfriend or girlfriend or experienced their first date.

This week the featured film is The Peanut Butter Falcon. Anton says it is funny, sad, on point and heartwarming.

The Monarch Theatre seats 402 and is open Wednesday to Sunday. On Wednesdays and Sundays there is a special price incentive with an entrance ticket costing only $6 and for another $6 you get a pop and popcorn. There are also reward cards called Reel Cards that you get stamped when you buy a ticket and you are later rewarded with a free ticket.

It is also a popular venue for weddings and corporate functions.

Construction commenced on the historic building in 1910 with the official opening in December 1911. In those early days there were 560 seats and a four-piece orchestra.

In 1945 it was given a face lift and it retains that look to this day. In 2008 The Monarch Theatre was sold to the CCDA.

If you have not been to the theatre for a while you may be surprised by all the little Art Deco touches that have been artistically and creatively added.

If you are a movie buff you may be interested in one of the original movie projectors that is available. It is The Peerless, model Sunplex E-7 and probably dates from the 1940s.

Roberts says it needs a new home and the Monarch Theatre would be delighted is someone wanted to make a donation in exchange for the projector.

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