Construction began last week, aiming for mid-July completion

Renovations for the new grand ballroom at the Chehalem Cultural Center began last week in hopes of a July completion date.

“Hopefully earlier, but mid-July is our target for completion,” said Rob Dailey, CCC executive director. “It will be used for community events, private events, fundraisers, banquets weddings, conventions and conferences. It’s going to be a great resource for the whole region.”

The 5,000-square-foot gymnasium renovation is just one is a handful of projects turning the former Central School into a cultural center for the community. The ballroom project will cost a little more than $1 million, which Dailey said was raised through foundations and individual donors. by: GARY ALLEN - Getting started - Crews began the transformation from the gymnasium at Central School into a ballroom at the Chehalem Cultural Center last week by removing ancient electrical    conduits and the wires that ran within them.

“I can’t over emphasize how involved and how much support (the Chehalem Park and Recreation District) has provided, both in kind and of preparing the space,” he said. “They did all the demolition, which saved a ton of money. They’ve done a lot of the electrical infrastructure up front so we don’t have to pay the contractor.”

The ballroom will see refinished floors, matching the Prichard Gallery floors, cleaning up the wood paneling and brick already in place, and a new lighting system, also matching the gallery.

“We’ll put a big roll-up glass door that will be able to go up. (So) if you have a wedding, you can roll this up so you can have it indoor-outdoor,” Dailey said.

The space will seat 300 people at a dinner and about 700 for a performance. Daley said it should be a flexible, high-capacity space.

“Really, we’re just trying to restore the character in the room,” Daily said. “We’ll be using as much reclaimed material as possible to give it an overall historical character with a modern interpretation.”

Upon completion, he said there will be a large celebration for the community.

“The school closed in 1995 so generation after generation went to school here,” he said. “We want to do basically a big community party. We’ve already lined up entertainment, prizes and found a bunch of memorabilia from (the school) and will display it around. It’ll be this big, fun party.”

This is in the hope that people will re-engage with the building.

“It will really honor the alumni that span generations,” Dailey said.

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