Theater Demo Day a Big Success Thanks to Volunteers

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- More than 40 volunteers showed up to Post 43's "Theater Demo Party" May 6, successfully completing much of the prep work necessary for construction to begin on the historic Hollywood Legion Theater remodel. 

The volunteers, many of them veterans of conflicts spanning from Korea to Afghanistan, carefully disassembled nearly 300 historic, 88-year-old theater seats and removed hundreds of yards of old carpet and padding and other items, filling a 40-foot rental dumpster to the hilt.

The spirit of volunteerism and satisfaction of working up a good sweat made for a positive experience during the operation. In less than two hours, the crew had completed the removal and dismantling of all the seats, carpeting, light columns, and leftover set pieces from past film productions.

"We are so grateful for these volunteers who really put some skin in the game and helped us officially kick off this renovation," said Fernando Rivero, Legion Theater Committee co-chair and Vice Commander of Post 43. "It's amazing how much we can accomplish together as a Legion family," said Rivero.

In addition to work in the theater, Post 43 volunteers went to work in the Cabaret Room, pulling up carpet which was severely damaged in flooding caused by a plumbing failure several months ago. The floors will be refinished to a polished concrete surface that will save the post thousands of dollars a year in carpet cleaning fees. The post filed an insurance claim for the damage, which will cover the work in the Cabaret Room. The carpet in the projection room was also removed and discarded.

Post 43 member, Dave Acosta, a licensed electrician, helped safely remove the light sconces at the base of each archway in the theater. These were cinematic practical lights added many years ago by a Universal Pictures film production and left in place, according to past adjutant, Terry Duddy.

"The turnout was great, many people came well prepared and everyone worked very intensely to get as much done as possible in a short amount of time," said Legion Theater project manager and Navy veteran, Bill Steele. "It was impressive to see our members in action," said Steele, "veterans really know how to get the job done." 

The original 1929 theater seats will be placed in storage for the time being. Approximately 60 of them will be refurbished by experts in historic restoration work and repurposed throughout the building: in the theater foyer waiting area and upstairs in what is now the museum space, which will be converted to a small theater/classroom/meeting space, incorporating approximately 50 of the original auditorium seats. Many of the seats are in severe disrepair, enduring nearly a century of use and abuse. Some of the remaining seats not repurposed in the building will be donated by the post to museums, and some may be auctioned to raise money for the restoration work. The restoration and reuse of some of the original seats was a requirement from the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, who oversees the city's Historic-Cultural Monument programs. The post clubhouse was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1986.

Drawings for the theater project are in final plan check, being reviewed at the Los Angeles building department this week. The project was received enthusiastically by L.A. Councilmember David Ryu's office and they are advocating on the post's behalf to expedite and clear the permitting process as smoothly as possible. The committee is optimistic they will receive the final clearance and have a permit in hand in the coming days, with construction to begin shortly thereafter.

Endless thanks to all the volunteers who came out:
Dave Acosta, Leslie Borchard, Jennifer Campbell, Lugdy Cuera, Al Gillins, Quinton Farina, Andy Fierro, Juston Graber, John Hannen, Vance Harvey, Vince Harvey, Perry Martin, Tracy Martin, Scott Mueller, Randy Kahn, Dennis Kee, Wolf McCarron, Michael McCloud, Carol Ann Van Natten, Ruby Ortega, Richard Padilla, Terrence Pallend, Erik Parcells, Larry Pitkin, Lester Probst, John Pruitt, Fernando Rivero, Ray Schoen, Tim Shaner, Bryon Smith, Trina Snow, Luis Soto, Bill Steele, Bill Tapp, Max Thayer, J. Christian Urich, Tom Urich, Julian Vazquez, Jennifer Weeks, Bruce Wildstein, and Dianna Wilson (Please let us know if we missed your name!)

Special thanks to the Auxiliary, Sons Squadron, and VFT for their support and to our adjutant, Karl Risinger for the planning and logistical help and to Post 43 staff members, Carlos Gomez and David Valencia for putting in the extra time. Thanks, also, to the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation and Ed Kelsey of Historic Building Services for their consultation.

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Post 43 Comms Team