ShareThis Page

Irwin's Lamp Theatre project nears goal

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Norwin Star
John Cassandro and Dee Meighan join Lamp Theater volunteers for a stuffing party at Cafe Supreme on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, to send out 10,000 notices announcing the Lamp's new website and an update on the project.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Norwin Star
Annette Bohinski and John Gdula join Lamp Theater volunteers for a stuffing party at Cafe Supreme on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, to send out 10,000 notices announcing the Lamp's new website and an update on the project.

Irwin officials believe they are on the verge of reaching the fundraising goal needed to get $500,000 in state and county grants available to restore the Lamp Theatre.

“We still have some calculations to make, but I think we're just about there, or will be there, in the next couple of weeks,” said Councilman John Cassandro, who has been coordinating efforts to restore the 76-year-old former movie house, which closed in 2004.

The state and county each have committed $250,000 for construction, Cassandro said. But to get that money, Irwin has to come up with $150,000.

So far, $123,827 has been raised, Cassandro said.

Cash gifts such as the $30,000 received from the Norwin Rotary and $20,000 from Irwin borough have been augmented with non-monetary, or “in-kind” donations, including volunteer hours.

Other major gifts include about $20,000 worth of materials from Exterior Products of Pittsburgh, which are being used to build a new façade and entrance, according to borough officials. Another $30,000 worth of waterproofing material and labor also was by Better Choice Waterproofing in Irwin.

“We're allowed to use in-kind donations like the time volunteers have donated to the project toward the money we need to draw down the grants,” Cassandro said. “We're placing an average value of $25 an hour for the work volunteers do, which came to $15,000 for the 600 volunteer hours logged between November and April.”

Cassandro said the borough's engineer, Lucien Bove, is preparing construction specification so bids can be sought in May. While most of the demolition work has been done by volunteers, construction will be performed by professional contractors.

The design work that Bove has been doing throughout the project — as well as much of the work by skilled tradesmen and donations from eateries to feed volunteers — have not yet been tallied, the councilman said.

“I think once we factor in the rest of those things we'll hit our goal,” Cassandro said.

The budget to refurbish the theater is $875,000. Plans call for extending the stage into the auditorium with an orchestra pit below to accommodate live performances. A digital movie-projector and lighting and sound systems also are in the works. An entrance will be made on the side of the building leading to an outdoor courtyard on an adjacent vacant lot.

Project organizers recently mailed out 10,000 fliers seeking donations and to announce a new website where gifts can be sent.

“The $150,000 we needed to raise is a milestone to get the grants for construction,” Cassandro said. “But we anticipate that a lot of other expenses will come up as we move forward, including a $90,000 mortgage on the building that has to be satisfied and the cost of constructing and furnishing the courtyard. We're hoping residents who get the flyer will consider supporting the project.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.