Architecture, Projects /

Sun Theater – Revisited – Part 2


Hello again. This is Part 2 in the highlight of the Sun Theater Historical Restoration. Part 1 can be read here; if you need to catch up, I will wait.

Ok, so now that everyone is all caught up on Part 1. We left off with plaster pieces being extracted from their molds and the site was being prepared for the new pieces to be installed.

So this is what the “dancefloor” on top of the scaffolding looks like. Much of the main structure of the plaster has been repaired and brown-coated. They have a few more coats of finished plaster to install before it is ready to receive the new pieces made off site though.

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Now the magic of plaster work starts to happen. The final coats are applied and then “pulled” with custom made knives (think Play-Doh). This gives the cornice and medallion its finished shape. With all the base plaster finished, the ornate pieces are applied, and that is really when things start to take shape.


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The interesting part is that all the pieces are basically “glued” on with plaster and the occasional wire strap. So, while the work on top of the scaffolding is moving along, there is plenty of work being completed below it as well. Here are some of the pieces below the scaffolding being worked on.

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Well, after the long (very, very long) process of restoring, replacing, repairing, and forcing the plaster back into place, it was time to start painting. Selecting the final paint color was not easy, let me tell you. After countless mock-ups (you don’t need to see those) and several digital models, we all agreed on the final color scheme. Once finalized, it was also a process of layering and building up the colors and effects. Many people have asked where the color scheme came from. Truthfully, it was inspired by some of the original paint that we found, but it is our modern take using that similar palette.

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The painting process was much quicker than the plaster process. We were soon ready to take the scaffolding down and see the entire theater house for the first time in several months. It was exciting to see everything wide open again.

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Now with the scaffolding removed, we have a few final touches which included rebuilding the lower balconies and columns. This process was very similar to the other restorations — just much lower to the ground!

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Work around the theater house continued to move forward, and slowly but surely it was becoming the Sun Theater again. Here are a few more shots (take from similar spots) to show the process and finished product.

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This project was certainly a test for many people and all the trades that worked on it. I certainly know I have a few more gray hairs from this one. But I am very excited to know that the Grand Center Arts Academy and its students get to use this space every day as a learning environment. If you have a chance to take a tour or see a show there – do it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.










Aaron Bunse