The renovation of the Miners’ Hall attic is underway.
Construction started two weeks ago, once all of the funding was in place and DJM Contracting was awarded the project.
“We have enough funding in place to do the full attic renovation pretty much as originally proposed,” explained Ann Damude, organizer for the project. “We did scale back on a few things that were in our ‘if we could do this it would be wonderful’ list.”
The project will include bringing the stairwell that leads from the lobby to the attic up to code, and refurbishing the two staircases that lead from the stage to the attic.
Those two staircases will lead up into the green room, which will occupy the south side. Though it’s been designed mainly as a place for actors to prepare and change costumes, Damude says, “it will also still be a general purpose space that if a small group of eight or 10 wanted to hold a meeting, they could meet up there.”
The middle section of the attic will be a multi-purpose room — a big, open room suitable for things like kids art classes, board meetings, training sessions or small yoga classes. There will also be storage cubbies built in under the eaves on both sides of the room, which will give groups like the Gold Fever Follies, the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture, and Rossland Recreation a place to store things. One of the cubbies will also house a utility sink.
The north side will be a lounge, suitable for small meetings or for use as a waiting room for the multi-purpose room. The space will include two bathrooms, a janitorial closet, a coat closet and a galley kitchen. The lounge will also offer access to the front balcony, which is being refurbished.
The project also included removing the chimney from the attic down to the stage.
“So now the chimney is gone from back stage, which means that basically when people want to go stage left, stage right, they can go behind the existing curtain, because there’s no chimney to block the transfer,” explained Damude.
When the chimney was still place, actors would have to run down the stairs to the lower floor and up the other set of stairs to get to the other side of the stage while staying behind the scenes.
Construction is expected to be completed by May 15, and Damude hopes the space will be open to the public for early June.
“Mostly what we’re doing is opening in time for the Follies to be back in there for the summer,” she said.
Rossland Recreation will continue to operate the space, and any requests to rent all or part of the attic space will go through them. But Damude explains that some logistics still need to be worked out.
“One of the interesting things that we’ll have to manage is noise transference between areas,” she said.
Having a noisier activity on the fourth floor at the same time as a quiet presentation in the main hall might prove problematic. There are also access issues, as the attic’s multi-purpose room can only be entered through the lounge or the green room, and the green room would have to be entered through either the main hall or the lodge room on the lower floor — with people walking up and down the stairway and creating noise for other users.
“So I think there’ll have to be some thought given to how the types of activities are best suited to which spaces, and how to ensure that they don’t intrude upon each other,” says Damude.
The Rossland Council for Arts and Culture (RCAC) has raised the majority of the funds for the attic renovation project, with another large part of the funding coming from grant programs that were applied for through the City of Rossland.
“They were grant programs that RCAC could not apply to directly, they needed to be applied to by the owner of the building. So the City of Rossland has been a huge partner for us,” explains Damude. “We wouldn’t have gotten here without really awesome support and access to staff.”