Our Town

Armond resurrection proceeding apace

The Armond Theatre in Cranbrook is recognizable for the vintage Pepsi ad that faces Baker Street. - Sally MacDonald photo
The Armond Theatre in Cranbrook is recognizable for the vintage Pepsi ad that faces Baker Street.
— image credit: Sally MacDonald photo

It mean seem unchanged from the outside, but preparations are underway to resurrect Cranbrook's historic Armond Theatre.

"The Armond is getting ready for her new duds," said Jean Trimble, who purchased the building last July in a court-ordered sale.

The theatre is a landmark on 10th Avenue in downtown Cranbrook, but it has been closed since 1999, not long after the multiplex Columbia Theatre opened in the Tamarack Centre.

A restrictive covenant was placed on the building – and remains to this day – that it cannot be used for a public movie house.

The Armond has gone through a series of owners since the 1990s, but it hasn't been substantially changed nor opened its doors to the public since then.

Since purchasing the theatre last year, Trimble has drafted plans to turn the theatre into a 1920s-era entertainment venue that will include a concert hall, steakhouse restaurant and piano bar. The stage will be expanded, and a Green Room added for visiting entertainers.

The building has been inspected for hazardous materials that were commonly used when it was constructed in the 1950s, and now architectural plans are being drawn up and a structural engineer is preparing a report on the theatre's condition.

"It's like a three-act play, and we're in act two," said Trimble. "The second act entails preparing the building for great renovations in the era of the 1920s and 1930s.

“Act three will be the Armond renovations – the painting and molding and furnishings and setting up the restaurant.”

She hopes the venue — under its new name the Armond Grande Theatre Company —will open by the end of 2014.

The Armond will be a multi-purpose venue that offers space for live theatre, weddings and parties, art exhibitions, music concerts, dinner theatre and more.

“There will be bands and all kinds of live entertainment,” said Trimble. “It will be something to have that right in the heart of downtown.”

She said that while it is a large project, it’s not more than she expected when she bought the property.

“The more I’m with this project, the more amazing it is. I’m very pleased to have this opportunity,” said Trimble. “It’s a wonderful project but very expensive.”

On the site of Cranbrook’s old auditorium, the Armond Theatre opened its doors on March 19, 1952. A packed house flocked to view “An American In Paris” at the new state-of-the-art theatre.

The movie theatre was designed by Vancouver architectural firm Sharp, Thompson, Berwick and Pratt, who also designed campus buildings at the University of British Columbia.

It was named for original managing director Armond Clark Blaine, who passed away before the theatre was completed.

Trimble would like to hear from anyone who has memories of the Armond, and in particular anyone with photos or memorabilia such as movie posters from the theatre.

“We are looking for photos of people who were involved in the Armonde. Who are they? Yoo hoo! We need your input and we’d like you to be part of this,” said Trimble.

“I can’t wait to see a picture of the man who built the Armond — Armond Clark Blaine.”

Archival records related to the Armond and the old auditorium will be stored in the restored facility, she said, with some items on display.

You can contact Trimble at 250-426-7573 or email nenajean@live.ca.

Visit www.thearmondgrandtheatreco.ca for more information.

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