Haven renovations ready for bids

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An unforeseen construction requirement put forth to the ongoingrenovations of the Haven by the Mississippi Department of Archivesand History has been adopted into the theater’s final architecturalplans, and instead of creating a problem for the job, mightactually reduce the cost of the project in the long run.

to the historic nature of the old Posey Place – an unuseddepartment store directly east of the theater that will be absorbedinto the theater’s front lobby – the department ruled that its ownfaçade cannot be demolished and replaced with an expanded theaterentrance. Save the Haven Committee Chairwoman JoAnna Sproles saidthe store’s double bay windows cannot be removed, as they represent1950s storefront retail.

“That is considered the recent history of the building; it’s howthe building and the street looked 50 years ago,” she said. “It’snot originally how the building looked – it was originally part ofthe theater and the windows were added in the 1950s. But recenthistory overrides ancient history, and that is how the Posey Placelooked during a person’s lifetime.”

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The department also ruled the white tile flooring in the entranceto the Posey Place also has historic value and could not bereplaced. The board’s original plan, which was to completely knockdown the entrance to the Posey Place and extend the theater’sexterior wall and add a new entrance, is no more. Since much of therenovation of the theater is being done with archives and historygrants, Sproles said the board is “playing ball with them.”

However, the new requirements have also spawned new ideas.

“We’re gonna be creative and work with what we have,” Sprolessaid.

Basically, the board has assumed the policy of, “If you can’t beat’em, join ’em.” Sproles said the board is considering duplicatingthe tile flooring and installing it at the theater’s existing,western entrance around the ticket booth.

“When all is said and done, it will still resemble storefrontproperty, but it is theater property,” she said. “We will work tomake sure our colors and materials are consistent.”

As for the unmovable bay windows, Sproles said they would be usedto feature the theater’s past. Pieces from the theater’s collectionof artifacts will be restored and displayed in the windows.

“Our plan is to use the bay windows as a kind of trophy case of ourpast and history,” she said.

Sproles said the artifacts, most of which are from the Haven’s timeas a movie theater, include an original projector, ticket machineand antique movie posters.

Brookhaven Little Theatre Board of Directors Vice President ShaWalker said the changes to the renovation plan might actuallyreduce the cost of the project, as an entire planned exterior wallhas now been removed from the blueprints. Walker pointed out therenovation’s time frame has not been affected by the changes, as nowork was scheduled until the last week of July.

“Our architect understood, redesigned the plans to meet archivesand history’s guidelines and we’re still on the same time frame,”Walker said. “It’s not that big of a deal – we’re still going to beable to utilize that space the way we intended.”

Walker said bids for the job are currently being sought, and theboard hopes to award the contract on July 10. The restoration ofthe façade should conclude by mid-October, Walker said, thus endingPhase Two of the theater’s multi-phased renovation plan.