At left: St. Aidan Orthodox Church. At right: The Studio Stage Door. Barry Coulter photos

At left: St. Aidan Orthodox Church. At right: The Studio Stage Door. Barry Coulter photos

St. Aidan, Studio Stage Door, benefit from historic grants

Two Cranbrook organizations getting sizable grants to upgrade their heritage facilities.

Two Cranbrook organizations are benefitting from sizable grants to upgrade their heritage facilities.

The Cranbrook Community Theatre Society is one of these organizations, and will use the funding for restorations to the actual theatre space in the historic Studio Stage Door in downtown Cranbrook.

Saint Aidan Orthodox Church, the other organization, will use the funding for a new lift and stairs to address accessibility issues at historic church on 7th Avenue South.

The two Cranbrook projects are among 68 projects province-wide, which are part of the single largest provincial funding program supporting B.C. heritage projects, according to Heritage BC.

The Province of B.C. allocated $16 million to the Unique Heritage Infrastructure stream of the

Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP). and appointed Heritage BC as the program delivery partner. This was part of B.C.’s $10 billion COVID response, which includes the StrongerBC for Everyone recovery plan — a plan aimed at protecting people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.

The Cranbrook Community Theatre Society (CCT), which serves as stewards to the 110-year-old Studio Stage Door, will use the $178,000 in funding to significantly improve the interior of the theatre on the upper level of the City-owned heritage building.

“We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development,” said CCT President Peter Schalk. “We feel so blessed to have been included in the group of award winners. All we can say is ‘thank you,’ though mere words are not enough.”

The work on the theatre will enhance the extensive renovations that have been ongoing since 2013, giving the historic building an entire new life — and very green footprint — for generations to come.

“We’re pretty proud of the fact that since 2013, when we started, we’ve done the front lobby, the Studio, and now the whole upper floor,” Schalk told the Townsman. “That leaves the green room, the kitchen area, and the make-up room area for the next project down the road.”

For the theatre renovations: “We’ll take all the seats out, all the lathe and plaster. Take out all the knob and tube wiring. Re-insulate — I’m sure we’ll find no insulation in most of the walls. The mechanical room at the back — which is now our tech room — will be redone, and also the tunnel [where the performers access the stage]. The tunnel will be refurbished with proper gyprock, proper lighting, carpet and handrails. Also some structural work to the staircase.

“It will also give us a new working perimeter for the stage itself — that’s all lathe and plaster. But we’ve decided to leave that up and just go over it with plywood. We can attach our sets to it a little easier. It will be a lot handier to build sets.”

The work will also add insulation to the walls and windows, including the wall adjacent to the outside stairwell where the stairlift is — neither wall had hitherto been insulated, making them both quite cold in the winter. Insulating the other theatre wall, beside the tunnel, will also help soundproof that wall for productions.

New LED lighting, proper floor lighting and new carpeting are part of the project.

All historical features will be projected.

“I keep telling people, this isn’t a ‘sexy’ project. At the end of the day, you’ll walk in and you say ‘what did you do?’ It’s all behind the walls. But the energy savings will be huge.”

The work is tentatively set for the summer, likely July through the fall.

St. Aidan Church received $220,000 in funding. The church will be installing a lift and stairs to improve accessibility issues at the historic church.

Built in 1952, St. Aidan Orthodox Church was originally the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. Mary, which the Orthodox Church began leasing in 2008. The Orthodox Church purchased the building outright in 2017, and restoration projects have also been ongoing.

Father Andrew Applegate, Priest at St. Aidan, saidthe historic merit of the church is what helped it get the grant.

“It’s not just about bricks and mortar,” he said. “ It’s about history, and what happened in the building.

“We also realize that as much as this is an historic building, our mandate is to be part of the community and be a community resource.”

St. Aidan manifests this mandate with outreach projects like their community breakfasts.

“We also want to make sure the facility is open. It’s a great place for people, with a kitchen and [small hall] that’s available to use. We want it to be accessible.”

Working with a architect who specializes in heritage projects, St. Aidan identified the greatest needs for accessibility — maintaining the historic look of the church while improving accessibility. The project includes the installation of an elevator and a staircase that goes from the upper floor to the basement without being outside.

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