First Stage reconstruction starts soon
June 29, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
The effort to replace the original Village Theatre — the frontier-era relic known as First Stage Theatre — inched ahead last week.
Crews closed the sidewalk in front of the historic building, and detoured pedestrians through wooden scaffolding built adjacent to the street. The sidewalk closure runs through March 2011.
Plans call for the existing structure to be razed in coming weeks, and for a modern theater to replace the almost century-old building at 120 Front St. N.
Crews from contractor Foushée & Associates, a Bellevue builder, started to disassemble the building last week. Construction should start on the new theater in July, theater spokeswoman Michelle Sanders said.
The builder intends to incorporate wood and other components, such as the iconic sign, from the historic theater into the planned building. Executives intend for the First Stage building to be LEED certified.
The city plans to update the permit after the builder determines a staging area for the demolition.
Built in 1913, the building then known as Issaquah Theater showed silent films in the early years. But the building had fallen into disrepair by the late 1970s. Village Theatre opened in the space in 1979.
Despite several stopgap restoration projects, the building continued to deteriorate, prompting calls for additional renovations. Moreover, the building lacks a foundation. The stage and audience seating areas needed overhauls as well.
Initial plans called for a renovation, but after theater executives realized the extent of the decay, they opted to tear down the building and start anew.
Until the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre — often referred to as the Mainstage — opened in 1994, the theater presented shows at First Stage Theatre. The building housed the KIDSTAGE and Village Originals programs after the Mainstage opened.
Both Tony Award-winning Village Theatre musicals — “Next to Normal” and “Million Dollar Quartet” — originated at First Stage Theatre.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.