Monday, October 15, 2007

Old Safford Theatre's future uncertain

[Source: Aimee Staten, Eastern Arizona Courier] -- The underpinnings of a dream to restore the historic Old Safford Theatre on Main Street are starting to crumble because the building’s walls are not stable. After several months of study, two of Safford’s administrators called the downtown structure “unsafe and in very poor condition.” Those were the written words of Special Projects Manager Robert Porter and Planning and Community Development Director Pete Stasiak presented to the Safford City Council on Monday.

The city was recently asked to consider taking over the title by the building’s owners Susan and David Duros. This request prompted a thorough evaluation by city staff, Durrant Architects and TLCP, a structural engineering firm, to identify the condition of the theater and any structural concerns.

The walls were built in the style of many other local historical buildings and are what Porter called “unreinforced masonry.” Because of the rotting condition of the walls, the roof and trusses, the city recently erected a 6-foot fence to deter the public from entering the building. The walls, some as high as 35 feet and made of concrete bricks mortared together, are cracked and as much as a foot out of plumb. “Based on current codes, you cannot build an unreinforced masonry structure of this height because it cannot withstand horizontal loads like winds and earthquakes,” Porter said. The east wall is in danger of falling at any time, and the north wall is leaning out, according to Porter. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Aimee Staten.]