After finding some hail damage at the complex that came from storms in July 2018, Gladys Wyant, The Arts Council’s executive director, knew the roof needed replacing so they could continue with renovations inside.
“It will be good for another 50 years,” Wyant said of the new roof. “There were leaks, so we just wanted to get all the water out of the building.”
After work began on the roof, Shannon O’Toole, owner of North Georgia Contracting, saw the job wasn’t going to be as easy as he had hoped.
“We tore the roofing system off the church and found out the decking on the roof was original to the building,” O’Toole said. “So low and behold, we had gaps that were an inch to half an inch wide. So we had to re-deck the entire structure with plywood and then install our shingles.”
After 500 sheets of plywood on the roof and many, many more shingles, the job was finished Friday evening. It only took three days to complete the Performing Arts Complex building.
“We have roughly about 25 guys working on it,” O’Toole said.
As the new roof was being installed with equipment and supplies strewn around the building, Wyant couldn’t help but get excited. For one, it shows people driving by that things are happening and moving along with the building. But it also means they can continue with all the work inside, without any worry of things being destroyed by water.
“It’s going to be better than new, because we're upgrading what was here,” Wyant said.
The inside is still a work in progress. The non-working sprinkler system, which stopped performances that were being held there when The Arts Council took over, has been replaced and is in working order now.
The platform serving as the stage has been built out to much larger than it originally was, but hasn’t been completed quite yet.
“Right now, we’re in the design stage,” Wyant said of the inside of the complex. “We’re designing the lights and sound and the electrical, because before we deck the platform we need to have all the guts in there and not make any mistakes and have things that have to come out.”
Wyant said they plan to have all types of concerts and performances in the historic Methodist church.
“The Arts Council will be presenting more than one series,” Wyant said. “We may have a classical series, we may have a pop series, we may have jazz.”
Wyant said they have the same plans for what the rest of the complex will look like. The red carpet that is there now, old and faded, will likely be torn up to expose the original wood floors. She said they’re debating on how to use the original pews that were there, too.
“There’s a small group that wants us to bring the pews back, but most people say don’t bring the pews back because they’re uncomfortable and everybody wants their own space,” Wyant said.
The Arts Council is still looking for ways to pay for all the renovations its making to the Performing Arts Complex. Wyant said they’re hoping some people will be generous and do some of the work at a lower cost than usual. She’s hoping other people will donate money to get other things done. No matter what, she said everything should be a lot easier from here on out because there is no worry of water getting inside.
She’s ready to see the building’s potential come to fruition and serve the area for years to come.
“This is on my bucket list to finish before I retire,” Wyant said.