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Holly Theatre artifacts recovered

Like a huge puzzle, the pieces of the Holly Theatre are slowly coming together, providing a clearer picture of an interior that evoked the feel of a Venetian canal.

On Tuesday, Liska Auctioneers of Grants Pass delivered a chandelier, parts of a wall alcove, speakers and other decorative items that had been removed from the inside of the theater. They had been stored in a Medford home and were about to be auctioned off.

“We’ve been trying since 2011 to get these items,” said Randy Bobst-McKay, executive director of Jefferson Live!, which is spearheading the Holly's restoration.

The pieces cost $5,000. To recreate them would cost 10 times that amount, Bobst-McKay said.

The theater now has four of the five chandeliers that once graced the interior, with its dappled ceilings designed to give the impression of shimmering water reflecting off their surface.

Two of the four plaster columns that decorated the wall niches were part of the items purchased from Liska.

Bobst-McKay said he hopes to start on the renovation work in 2015. He said he wouldn't start until he had $3 million in donations and grants out of the total $3.8 million needed, a figure slightly higher than earlier estimates of $3.5 million. The remaining money would be raised during the construction. So far, about $2 million has been raised to rebuild the 1,000-seat theater and about $300,000 has been spent for restoration of the facade and beam repairs so far.

Jefferson Live!, which operates the Cascade Theatre in Redding, is managing the Holly for the JPR Foundation, which raises money for Jefferson Public Radio.

With many of the pieces now available, it takes the guesswork out of restoring the interior, which had fallen into disrepair.

“As long as we have one of everything, we can make everything,” local historian George Kramer said. A latex cast of the columns will be made to reproduce needed duplicates.

Jefferson Live! did track down the other two columns, but the owner had cut them in half to make an entertainment center and had thrown away the bottom portion.

Luckily the columns that were delivered Tuesday still had their original color and decorative features intact.

“These are just incredible,” George said.

Every item that is found means one less item that would have to be fashioned by hand.

“If you don’t have these pieces, you take your best shot at recreating,” Kramer said.

The theater has eight wall niches, some with seashell niches and simulated balconies. In addition, two large alcoves near the stage have backdrops that suggest a Tuscan landscape.

Hammond Construction Co. renovated the outside façade of the Holly in 2012 and repaired cracked structural beams in the ceiling.

Dave Hammond, owner of the construction firm, said it will be a complicated process to restore the theater.

“There’s a lot more artistry in this than trade work,” he said. “It’s going to take some real talent.”

Hammond, who remembers seeing movies at the Holly about 40 years ago, said the interior of the building will meet modern codes. Fire sprinklers will be installed and the materials used will be more fire-resistant than the original.

Because of the detail work in the interior, Hammond said it will be time-consuming to restore the theater.

“We’re thinking this is going to take a couple of years,” he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.

Cox unloads one of the Holly's original chandeliers. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell
Craig Cox, left, and Patrick Taylor of Grants Pass unload newly acquired parts of the Holly Theatre's interior facade. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell