Plans to rehabilitate Irwin's Lamp Theatre go forward

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:42 a.m.

Just hours after the borough took ownership of the Lamp Theatre, Irwin Council began planning to rebuild its façade and potential fundraisers.

The borough purchased the building from the Westmoreland Cultural Trust on June 6, about five hours prior to the council's monthly workshop meeting, council President John Cassandro said.

“I'm looking forward to putting the acquisition problems behind us and moving on to construction,” Cassandro said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

In March, borough officials agreed to purchase the Lamp Theatre from the trust for $1 but set a June closing date to clear up a lien on the property. The building was built in 1941.

Along with the purchase agreement, council agreed to open a line of credit through S&T Bank of up to $125,000, with a 3.25-percent interest rate, to fund a portion of the work on the theater.

Council hopes to avoid tapping into the credit line, Cassandro said.

Public works director Jim Halfhill said he plans to rebuild the exterior of the theater with stucco, a plaster-like material made of an aggregate, binder and water, which will be paid for with $15,000 in grant funding from the state, which was awarded to the Westmoreland Cultural Trust.

Cassandro said borough officials plan to work with the trust to release the money to purchase materials.

Officials also plan to replace the Lamp's windows and doors, Halfhill said.

Halfhill said he plans to begin ordering the materials for the façade update and avoid hiring a contractor by using members of the public-works crew and volunteers.

In addition to the façade work, Cassandro said, borough officials plan to begin developing a seating arrangement. Currently, the trust has more than 200 theater seats from the former Norwin Hills Cinemas, which were donated for the Lamp Theatre rehabilitation.

Cassandro said the seats might need some refurbishing before officials install them in the theater.

“We also need to kick our fundraising efforts into high gear,” Cassandro said. “We need to meet with the Relight the Lamp committee and make sure we are all focused.”

Councilwoman Gail Macioce said officials plan to offer seat-sponsorship program. Although she didn't go into detail about how much a sponsorship would cost, Macioce estimated the program could bring in up to $50,000.

Once officials finish developing the façade, Macioce expects the seat sponsorships to be an easy sell.

Cassandro said council needs to be proactive when it comes to fundraising, not only in the short term, but for as long as the borough owns the theater.

“Even after it's open and operating, we're going to need to think about continuing to raise money,” he said. “This will be an ongoing process, forever and ever, so we just have to get used to it and start fundraising.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or

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