On May 7, 2007, the Strand Theatre suffered a devastating fire. It was a tragedy, not only for our downtown and Main Street, but for the whole community of Evanston as well.
The day after the fire, there was talk of demolishing what was left of the building. The National Trust for Historic Preservation office in Denver immediately called and paid for a structural engineer to inspect the building to see if it could be saved and if it was structurally sound. The Urban Renewal Agency brought on board Myers-Anderson Architects to work alongside the structural engineer. Good news, the building was not going to fall down, but there were recommendation to ensure the stability and safety of the building.
The owners, Kim and Kendra West, were able to do some of the work and cleaning of debris, but the task became too big, expensive and emotional. The Wests approached the Evanston Urban Renewal Agency about purchasing the building. The Renewal Agency spent the next year in discussions with the Wests regarding the fate of the building, taking on the project and the expense.
On August 26, 2008, Kim and Kendra West donated the property to the Evanston Urban Renewal Agency.
The members of the board and staff, all agreed this project is what the Urban Renewal Agency is all about and part of their mission statement. The Strand is a significant historic building on Main Street and in the middle of Evanston’s Historic District and the last thing anyone wanted, was a huge gaping hole in the streetscape on Main Street.
Soon after obtaining ownership of the Strand, a group called the Strand Committee began to meet. This group met and began to build consensus to save the Strand and began discussions about what the future may hold for the property. When work with JL Hardy began, the Strand Committee brought even more interested people to the table and discussions for the future of the building and its uses.
In the fall of 2008, the Evanston Urban Renewal Agency advertised for bids for Phase 1 of work to be done at the Strand. Maxwell Masonry of Harrisville, Utah, was awarded the bid. Work included removal of all debris, selective demolition , taking the rear fly wall down 26’, restoring the sidewalls to 30’ above the sidewalk, storing the excess brick and seismic upgrades. This phase of work cost $166,600. The funds for the work was paid by the Evanston Urban Renewal Agency.
In 2010, K.R. Goble Construction repaired the lower façade and installed a temporary storefront and front lower windows. New movie poster cases were also installed. A CDBG grant paid for a new sidewalk in front of the building and the Renewal Agency partnered with the Parks Department to have a tree planted in front of the theatre.
A CDBG application was submitted to the Wyoming Business Council in 2009. There was so much competition, Evanston was not awarded the grant but encouraged to apply again on the next go around. The CDBG application was resubmitted and recommended for funding and was approved on June 3, 2010.
Phase 2 of work was advertised in September of 2010, and the bid was awarded to JL Hardy from Salt Lake City, UT. This phase of work includes a new roof, which is the final step to complete the stabilization of the Strand, new windows, new storefront, entry way concrete and tile work.
May 8, 2007 – National Trust for Historic Preservation Denver office contacts and hires structural engineer to inspect the fire damaged building and submit a report on findings and whether the building is stable and can be saved.
May 8, 2007 – Evanston Urban Renewal Agency contacts Jerry Myers of Myers-Anderson Architects to inspect building with structural engineer.
August 2007-August 2008 – discussions between owners and Evanston Urban Renewal Agency regarding fate of building.
August 26, 2008 - Kim and Kendra West donate the Strand Theatre to the Evanston Urban Renewal Agency.
2008-2009 – Phase 1 – Clean-up, removal of all debris and stabilization – Maxwell Masonry - $166,600 – Paid by Evanston Urban Renewal Agency.
2010 – Repair of lower façade, temporary storefront and lower windows, new movie poster cases – K.R. Goble - $8,500 – Paid by Evanston Urban Renewal Agency.
September 2010 – 2011 – Phase 2 – new roof and stabilization, new upper windows, new storefront, entry way and tile – JL Hardy – CDBG funding – match Evanston Urban Renewal Agency.
2007 to present – Myers-Anderson Architects – Renewal Agency, CDBG funding, Wyoming Main Street Technical Assistance.
Renewal Board members and staff at time of donation:
Lynne Fox, Chair; Barbara Bogart, Fred Coles, Jon Dolezal, Joy Walton, Rick Lunsford, ex-officio; Jim Davis, staff; Jane Law, staff; Jerry Myers, architect