Sunday was Big Beams Day in downtown Cranbrook — on 10th Street, specifically — as a significant repairs to the vintage Armond Theatre got underway. When it was done, the building was nine-and-a-half tons heavier, as four 4,700-pound steel beams were put in place as a major upgrade to the theatre roof.
Over the years, as the theatre sat empty, one of the main obstacles to its restoration was the decrepit state of the roof.
“The roof involved either significant structural upgrades or a complete replacement before the City of Cranbrook would allow occupancy for any future owners,” said Ferdy Belland, one of the new co-owners of the 70-year-old building, along with Casey Wright and Spencer Kerr (owners of Casey’s Roofing and Flashing.
Belland said there were two major obstacles that over the years had deterred up to 30 potential owners — the decontamination of the building, and the roof upgrades.
“To replace the roof meant a complete demolition, opening up the building naked to the sky, at the cost of a cool million,” Belland said.
“We brought in Bernie Penner, of Pennco Engineering in Nelson, whose firm does massive work in the Nelson downtown core. He found the Armond project to be right in his wheelhouse, and came up with a solution.”
The solution was the four steel beams.
The roof is comprised of a series of trusses, placed in pockets along the walls and supported by vertical pilasters, or columns. These carry the ceiling joists, which are built of laminated two-by-eight lumber. The four steel beams placed across the outside of the roof, will attach to the trusses, and carry the entire roof structure. The weight of the beams themselves will be carried by the theatre’s concrete walls, which are enormously strong.
“That way, we can support the vintage louvered ceiling inside the theatre,” Belland said.
“This was the simplest and most cost effective way to repair the existing roof.”
Early Sunday morning, August 15, 10th South was blocked off, and PJB Crane Service out of Sparwood moved the crane into place. Each steel beam was hoisted aloft, and carefully placed in position over the course of the morning.
Belland said that the work would add three centuries to the life of the building.
“It’s our intention to follow Armond Blaine’s original vision of creating the Armond Theatre as a lasting edifice, to be enjoyed by generations of Cranbrookians yet to come.”
Phase Three planning of the Armond’s rejuvenation will include the renovations and installations, including the floors, office spaces, lobby, the unique louvered ceiling from the cinema era, and the restored interior aesthetic, which Belland says will embrace Retro-Chic stylings: the coffered ceilings, the wooden wainscoting, the hardwood dance floor, the wall sconces, the velvet drapery, the gilded balcony area, among other exciting decorations.
The Armond is tentatively set to open to the public in the summer of 2022.