Downtown's Strand Theatre renovations are continuing

PLATTSBURGH - Leigh C. Mundy has found the perfect recipe for restoring a building consists of passion, energy and, of course, money.

Mundy stands at the helm of the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts' board of trustees, which has been working since 2006 to restore the former Strand Theatre on Brinkerhoff Street. The project has been a challenging one, said Mundy, but one she feels is well worth the effort.

"It's beautiful," Mundy said of the Strand. "We're talking marble staircases, we're talking aluminum leafing. Just a beautiful, beautiful theatre."

The NCCCA board purchased the building in 2004, saving it from foreclosure, said Mundy. The Strand was still being used as a movie house at the time, and was allowed to continue doing so until it was closed in 2006 for asbestos abatement.

That's when the restoration truly began, she said, under the guidance of her predecessor, Sylvia Stack. The process involved refurbishing many of the fixtures within the building in order to comply with regulations of the National Register of Historical Places, of which the Strand is registered.

"It's as close as you can get," Mundy said of the changes so far.

The most modern changes to the 10,000 square-foot building have been to make it handicap-accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The restoration, which has been previously described as being a $3.6 million project, has been mainly slowed by delayed government funding, said Mundy.

"Grants from the state have been tremendously delayed. We just last year got the money available to us from a 2006 grant," she said.

Currently, the NCCCA board is awaiting a 2008 grant from New York State. What's kept the momentum going, however, has been "generous donations from the community."

"The large chunks of money are always great, but I have a lady that sends me a $25 check a quarter," said Mundy. "It's what she can do but she knows it's important ... It's really special."

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