Saving Vaudeville – Restoration for a Community

In 2012 I was approached by the Director of theRivoli Theater Restoration Coalitionfrom Pendleton, Oregon. He had seen a few of the point cloud visualizations our team put together for thePetersen Rock Gardenin Redmond, Oregon and he was confident that the Rivoli could benefit from this sort of marketing as well as a high-tech documentation effort. I was immediately excited to know that people were beginning to hear about our historical preservation project and wanted a piece of it for their own areas of interest. I told him I would absolutely drive to Pendleton, home of thePendleton Round-Up.

The Rivoli also happened to be on Restore Oregons Most Endangered Placeslist which made her the ideal candidate for ToPa 3Ds documentation goal of 100 historic sites scanned in Oregon. More importantly, it was our hope that 3D documentation would not be the end of the story for the Rivoli, but rather a beginning. Imagery speaks volumes in my experience and our ultimate goal was to showcase this theater to the public with new technology and later, use the scans to provide information for its eventual remodel and repurposing. Its such a great structure we thought, and when restored would serve this community well.

We started with hauling out a portion of what would eventually be over 20,000 pounds of debris. After this was accomplished, 3D laser scanning ensued using the older FARO Photon scanner. A representative panoramic photo was taken of the interior with our GigaPan Epic Pro (see Panorama).

Into the Darkness

The Rivoli had small, pitch black crawl-spaces and cobwebs in every conceivable nook and cranny. I had the gumption (or insanity) of entering this project blind. Committing first, then assessing what had to be done upon my arrival. This in hindsight was all part of the adventure!

There are several interesting facts about the Rivolis history, not all of it glamourous. It began in the roaring 20s as a vaudeville theater, complete with a Wurlitzer organ above the stage. Below the theater, it is believed that the underground and quite expansive catacomb of an unfinished basement, connected to the Chinese Tunnel system that is a web under the desert town of Pendleton, Oregon. Not many people know that many of the opium den legends sprout from this very region. There is also an old and amazing HVAC system in those crawl spaces made entirely of formed wood that is about 5 across and 2-3 high, connecting to a massive fan with pedals the size of oar blades. Its the most bizarre HVAC Ive ever seen which can be seen in the point cloud fly-through animation in this article. It could be that this piped cool air from the tunnels into the theater. As the years went by, the theater changed hands with uses to include adult only cinemas in the 60s and later, complete abandonment.

Since our cleaning and documentation efforts, the Rivoli has seen new improvements as funding has manifested. The old marquee, except the original steel frame, was removed and replaced as part of the theaters ongoing restoration project. Contractors for the Department of Environmental Quality hauled away two old furnace oil tanks that were mysteriously enclosed in cement and sand in the basement. The project estimated to cost less than $43,000 was paid for with Environmental Protection Agency funds. Later, a four-man crew removed nearly six tons of sand, almost three tons of concrete and 80 gallons of old diesel fuel from the building. The concrete was thrown in a landfill and the rest recycled. Today, there is a clean, newly restored facade on the building that shines as a beacon of a unified community working together. The dream of reawakening the Rivoli is coming to pass

If I were to conclude anything about this restoration project, it would be that its only a matter of time before people can re-experience this amazing place. To quote Coalition President Andrew Picken, in reference to the renovation of the Rivoli Theater:

I will bet anyone $5 million that this project will get donebefore the end of time

Well said Andrew!That is how I feel about documenting history with 3D technologies. I believe it will get done, one way or another, come fire or swarms of locusts, because there are a lot of people passionate about spaces and places that hold rich history and meaning in our State. Documenting in 3D will educate future generations about our history in a way unparalleled when compared to traditional 2D documentation methods. Belief is like a fire hot, a little dangerous, and spreads fast.

Rivoli Theater – 3D Laser Scanning Vaudeville’s History

About the Author

Paul Tice

Founder and CEO of ToPa 3D - a data visualization company based in Oregon, Paul draws from over 10 years of experience in CAD systems, 3D technologies, project management and connecting project teams. Working in the AEC and historical preservation industries and having published several articles in LiDAR News, Paul has appeared in the Oregon Business Journal, The Daily Journal of Commerce, The Eastern Oregonian, and SparPoint News with his work on 3D historical preservation. Additionally, he won the Innovation in Multimedia international award from Bentley Systems, Inc. in Amsterdam, Netherlands for his work with laser scan technology and animation in November 2011. Since that time, he has presented at trade conferences on his work and taught workshops on the leveraging of laser scan technology nationwide.
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