The BIGGEST project of my life is nearly done: We renovated a 1922 Silent Movie-era Theater in St. Paul, and then moved everything over from Minneapolis. For now, we’re calling it “The Glenn Cronkhite Theater,” although it was originally and briefly known as the Radio Theater.
Dang. That was hard. I sunk 250 hours into a recent 3 week stretch. I had a lot of help, too.
The before and after is Summer 2022 to about February 2023
SCROLL DOWN for before and after photos, the new Garage CNC table, the 50 huge bags of foam in the balcony we’re going to turn into dog beds, the high pressure foam machine we finally have to make the composite cases, the 12′ tall foam storage and cutting station, the laundromat conveyor I installed to help organize our thousands of pattern pieces — I can’t convey how helpful that will be.
Ha! Sorry. Dad jokes rule.
For those who are curious, this is a partial list of what I did between last September and this July. I had a crew of 2-3-4 people working with me 6-10 PM Monday-Friday and 9-4 or 5 most Saturdays, while Jen, Chris, Hairo, Katie, Svea, Leighton, and the sewing staff did their thing in Minneapolis:
Sewing Room — 2800 sf
Removed 2 old Reznor gas heaters from 14′ high ceiling.
Removed all conduit, all lighting, and all flooring.
Framed (with vapor barrier), insulated, taped, mudded, rocked, and painted the exterior walls (14′ X 125′). This is a lot of wall!
Ran electrical through new walls, contracted the connections.
Built a temporary insulated wall while the car crash damage was repaired (don’t ask).
Painted the ceiling.
Painted the walls. More than once (don’t ask).
Mounted 16 high bay LED ceiling lights.
Finished and installed 12 hickory cabinets and 13 X 4’X8′ Hickory plywood for sewing stations.
Garage — 850 sf
Tore out moldy sheetrock ceiling full of tree roots, squirrels, and several thousand walnuts. Chased squirrels away. Chased squirrels away again. Gave up chasing squirrels away.
Treated moldy walls with bleach, primed with water resistant primer, added vapor barrier, framed, electrified, insulated, taped, mudded, rocked, sanded, and painted walls and ceiling.
Tore off horrible roof situation, rebuilt and extended rafters, rebuilt deck, added ice barrier on entire low slope roof, added vents, added soffit, re-shingled the roof.
Installed radiant floor with 3-8″ of cement due to bad slope (pex, rebar, manifold, water heater)
Installed insulated garage door.
Painted ceiling and walls.
Installed new 4’X8′ CNC table for making shapes for composite cases — nice table!
Installed sliding table saw for cutting trombone slide sleeve and bell reinforcement plywood.
Our new CNC table is much better than old old CNC table–>
Theater / Stage / Balcony — 6000 sf — This was a special hell.
Tested for asbestos, twice.
Removed 24′ large cinder block wall (600 sf room previous owners built to dry out used carpets they would clean and resell — yuck!).
Removed 23′ high pallet racks, built 12′ deep to hold carpet rolls — NOT EASY! 😉
Removed giant shelves over stage area, reclaiming a dozen or more 20′ Douglass Fir boards.
Removed old radiators, treated rust, primed against future rust, painted with an oil based shellack, converted from steam to water, reinstalled.
Tore out 2400 sf of severely ugly offices.
Jackhammered and removed 2000 sf of poorly done cement floor.
Installed radiant floor in that 2000 sf area.
Removed the original swamp chiller areas, and turned them into 300 sf storage space Stage Right and Stage Left. Framing, electric, ceiling, floor, insulation, etc. — probably spent too much time here.
Removed 3′ tall metal halide lights and conduit wires everywhere.
Removed 106′ feet of steel beams that were used to hoist the used carpet — This was dangerous work, cutting down 3-7′ sections over the course of a few weeks.
Recycled the steel, got $140 for my efforts. Hmmm.
Repaired 8 large holes in the ceiling, and several hundred small punctures. Heat bill went from $2500 with frozen paint on the floor in December to a much more comfortable feeling $1000. Once the boiler and floor get online, the bill should drop in half again. These holes required 2 of my guys to go into the attic space with a hose, mortar, and wire mesh, while we fastened plywood from below. They would mix the mortar in the near dark with headlamps, and fill in the hole. The next day we would remove the wood, chisel off the mistakes, and then patch missed spots — some early holes took 20 hours of labor while we learned how to patch them up.
Scraped ugly 1-2″ of insulation off every inch of the ceiling. Cleaned up with about 100 plastic leaf bags.
Primed the ceiling with horrible results. Primed again. Scraped again. Primed again (much better!), added actual ceiling color, rolling after spraying — NICE! The ceiling work alone took more than 3 months.
Primed the walls. Painted the sage and ceiling colors. WOW! Things started to look really nice at this point!
Power washed the floor, twice.
Sanded the stage. Color matching the old mahogany movie screen frame took three trips to a specialist, btu was well worth the effort. Stained the floor and sprayed 2 coats of varnish on top. WOW!
Left the original Art Deco flowers Stage Right and Left.
Foyer was demo’d to original cement walls, extensive mortar repairs were made, skim coats, and is left quite unfinished for a later date.
The balcony was where most of the office spaces were demo’d. It’s open now, got some primer and paint, with new offices to be added later. It currently holds about $25,000 worth of scrap foam we used to throw out — we’re gonna make dog beds to chew that waste up and put it to good use. I added a fence using our old mezzanine gate from Minneapolis.
There’s a LOT left off this list. For several months, I was at the hardware store DAILY, trying to stay in front of my work crew. We also removed 7 trees growing in the power wires, leveled (sort of) a back patio, ground out some stumps (sort of), planted some grass (sort of), put in a retaining wall using bricks from my house my then-wife didn’t like, sunk some posts for a future fence — and believe me, we ain’t done yet!
This was a HUGE project. Like, I can’t even explain how many skills I had to learn, and how many truly weird problems my crew and I had to solve this year. And of course, we had to pack up everything and move. You ever send a $200,000 CNC table down the highway on a flat bed truck? I have. It’s terrifying.
I could not have done this without Chris Bates and Jen Burliegh-Bentz, with Katie Ross and Leighton Tuenge, and the rest of the cutting and sewing crew keeping everything running in Minneapolis. Just…thanks. There are no words for my gratitude, Team. Even through my stress, y’all came through and continue to come through.
We don’t have AC!
We’re hot! And sometimes bothered!
We’re sewing again!
We’re filling orders every day!
We’re waiting on Exel Energy to hook up our 600 AMP service very soon, and then we can start to electrify more of our heavy power tools. This electric work includes that foam injection machine, which we are eager to use to fill up the Velox carbon fiber cases.
Thanks for supporting us on this journey of ours.
From all of us at Torpedo Bags…
Truly, truly — thank you.
PS: I lost 25 pounds this year and feel GREAT! Ha!