Firemen’s Theatre hazards outlined
Written by Lenore Rutherford, The Union Democrat January 13, 2010 11:22 am
Considered a ruin rather than an historic building, the Tuolumne Firemen’s Theatre may be demolished, unless it is completely restored or used as a base for a new building. File photo/Union Democrat, copyright 2010
It’s not a question of whether the Tuolumne Firemen’s Theatre will come tumbling down unless something is done to prevent it. It’s a matter of when it will fall, and who could be caught under the rubble.
That’s what Tuolumne County’s chief building official, Doug Oliver, told members of the Historic Preservation Review Commission on Tuesday.
“I don’t like to bring you this kind of news,” he said. “I’m pro saving old buildings, but not if they are unsafe. There is the potential that the front and rear walls could spill into the alley behind the theater or onto Chestnut Street in front.”
The concrete block and brick building built in 1946 by Tuolumne Hose Company No. 1, near the corner of Main and Chestnut streets. Over the years it was a dance hall, movie theater and home to several small businesses, including the Tuolumne Gallery. It was gutted by fire in the 1960s and has been exposed to the weather since then. There is no floor or roof to tie it together.
Owner John Livingston, of Fairfield, has been given three options by the county: completely repair the building, repair a portion of it as a base for new construction, or demolish it.