The Plaza Arts Center opened to the public just over 10 years ago in 2008 after an extensive $3M renovation. The original building, as many know, was originally the old Eatonton School which was built back in 1916. See video below on the history of the building and the original renovation project.
In June of 2017 Oconee Engineering, LLC completed a Structural Engineering Study which revealed some existing conditions that needed to be addressed to maintain the facility. The Plaza Facilities committee and the City of Eatonton worked together to identify and prioritize the first phase of the preservation efforts. The total cost of this first phase quickly added up to well over six figures. Thanks to a generous grant from The Fox Theatre Institute and the City of Eatonton SPLOST funds, we were able to raise enough money to complete phase I. See photos from our Big Check Celebration. Phase II projects have already been identified and The Plaza plans to secure a similar model of funding to complete the next round of work.
Thank you to all our contractors and vendors, The Fox Theatre Institute, City of Eatonton, Oconee Engineering, The Plaza Board of Directors, the Eatonton Historic Preservation Commission, and all our Plaza Partners for your support, collaboration, and dedication to maintain and preserve The Plaza Arts Center for many years to come. See you at The Plaza!
Many of the exterior wood windows were showing considerable deterioration due to wood rot. Also, the thermal glass panes had experienced failure of their seals and were at various stages of cloudiness. The Plaza Board members worked with the City of Eatonton along with collaboration with the Eatonton Historic Preservation Commission to select new windows that would ensure that the historic character of the building would be preserved. Many thanks go to Summit Millwork and Schweitzer Art Glass for the new windows and installation and to Wilson Painting. This project was completed in 1Q 2019.
To summarize the two beam issues, here are excerpts from the building report from Oconee Engineering.
- Crawl Space and Partial Basement – Existing Conditions “The majority of the foundation is comprised of a dirt floor, crawl space. This portion of the building contains structure that is original to the building. In this area, wood beams span over brick piers to form the main floor structure. These wood beams support 2x wood joists and wood subfloor. Overall, the first-floor framing and supports that were visible from the crawlspace and partial basement area appear to be structurally sound. There are, however, two areas of concern in the crawlspace that were observed during my visit. One of these areas involves a beam that was notched significantly to allow a PVC pipe (roof drain) to pass through it. This damaged beam is under a hallway wall on the right side of the auditorium. There is a sag in the floor that is visible from the first-floor hallway directly above this beam notch. (see photos)
- Attic over Auditorium – Existing Conditions: “The attic area over the auditorium is accessed by a scuttle hole and ladder on the balcony level of the auditorium. The roof framing over the auditorium is comprised of timber trusses spanning approximately 54 feet across the auditorium space. These trusses are spaced at 18 to 20-foot spacing and they support transfer beams that span 18 to 20 feet between timber trusses. These transfer beams support roof joists that form the gabled roof over the auditorium. When viewed from the exterior, it appears that the transfer beams have sagged significantly between the trusses. (see photos)
These two structural beam projects were awarded to Suncoast. Work began in March 2019 and was completed in May 2019.
Video – 2018 Documentary (7 min)
The Eatonton School, located on historic North Madison Avenue, was built in 1916 and was used continuously as an education facility until 2001. The Putnam Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 1998 adopted the school as a renovation project. From that point, Tom Rosseter and three major committees provided the necessary leadership to move through all the planning, fundraising, and construction process necessary to complete the renovation.
Ten years later, The Plaza Arts Center, as the building was named, opened for public use in March 2008. View the 2008 documentary, The Plaza Arts Center, for an overview of the restoration process below.