The $400,000 facade renovations taking place outside the historic Capitol Theatre in downtown Wheeling are on schedule and expected to be complete by late September or early October, according to Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Frank O'Brien.
O'Brien said the renovations, which involve extensive cleaning, masonry work, stabilization and repointing of the building's terra cotta exterior, will hopefully restore the historic venue to the way it looked when the doors first opened in 1928.
"It is important for us to sustain the envelope of the building to protect the interior upgrades," O'Brien said. "All of these improvements we made on the interior of the building, new seats, new carpeting, all of the upgrades - they need to be protected and the facade of the building was in bad shape."
Last summer, the CVB replaced every seat in the Capitol, installed new carpeting throughout and upgraded the sound and light projections systems, funded in large part with private donations.
"The next thing that we will be doing is looking at the roof and making sure that it is replaced and has a 35 to 40 year guarantee. ... But this facade improvement and stabilization, as far as I can tell has never been done," O'Brien said.
Coon Restoration & Sealants of Louisville, Ohio, is the general contractor for the all the outdoor restoration work. Capitol Theatre Production Manager Tom Beck said the restoration work is currently about 75 percent complete. Scaffolding on the sidewalk in front of the theater does not have any negative impact on access to the theater, O'Brien said.
In 2010, the National Park Service awarded the theater a Save America's Treasures grant to cover about $200,000 of the total cost - one of the last projects to receive funding before the federal government cut the program.
The remaining $200,000 is coming from the city's 2011 tax increment financing bond issue, according to O'Brien.
"We are so far ahead of where I thought we would ever be. It's just magical. ... I have to think it is going to look like it did in 1928 when they're finished," O'Brien said. "We're going to have a treasure and an icon that will forever be part of this community's history."