Renovation of the Liberty Theater in downtown Astoria contiunues to take shape.

J.R. Vanderburg, a lighting restorer from Portland, used wire to hold newly created panels tightly to the iron framework of the chandelier.

"It was neat to see it at the point when it's all stripped down. You see how simple it really is, compared to how ornate it can look," said Vanderburg as he pieced together the chandelier. The original iron framework was cleaned of rust and clear coated. The bottom portion of the chandelier is shaded with silk panels.

Original parchment panels were torn and stained, but the design was traced and sharply stenciled with black paint onto new craft paper panels. The inside of the new panels have a light-colored plastic coating, which will create more light reflection and overall glow in the theater. The original interior lighting fixture was a tangled mess of bulbs and cables.

"We've come up with a much better solution to that." The result is a much more user friendly fixture. "No one will have to climb into it to change the light bulbs," said Vanderburg.

Harvey Freer, a painting restorer from Portland, was called in to touch up Joseph Knowles' 12 oil paintings. With more than 75 years of soot, dirt and even soda pop becoming part of the paint, Freer and colleague Steve Maker used solvents and varnish to refresh the images.

"Normally you can clean a painting by taking the varnish off, but he (Knowles) never varnished these," said Freer of the paintings, which all show scenes of Venice.

The paint on the murals which have been subject to spillages has "alligatored," or separated, over the years and must be touched up with matched paint. Freer, who very rarely works on location, dealt with the challenges of vertical painting and scaffolding.

"It's just such a worthwhile project. Normally things like this get scrapped. Astoria is really lucky to have this and the people with the foresight to bring it back."


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