The Steeples Project is in the habit of saving old churches in Cambria City, one of Johnstown’s most diverse neighborhoods. St. Columba is their latest target.
The Columba Theatre Project is an $8 million adaptive-reuse that aims to transform the former St. Columba Church and rectory into a dedicated, professionally equipped, theatre for dramatic arts — a cultural asset that Johnstown currently lacks. The conceptual plan calls for the development St. Columba nave into a 250-seat theatre with a 30- x 40-foot stage and two dressing rooms. An infill building will provide public lobby and backstage event spaces, while the former rectory will house the box office, concessions, more dressing rooms, green room and corporate offices.
The design team is led by Landmarks SGA, LLC., of Somerset, PA, which specializes in historic building adaptive-reuse projects. Other design team members include Theatre Consultants Collaborative, LLC., of Chapel Hill, NC, and Creative Acoustics, LLC., of Westport, CT, which collectively have hundreds of theatre developments in their portfolios. CJL Engineering of Johnstown is the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing consultant.
Following a feasibility study in 2017, the design team performed schematic design in 2019 and design development in 2020. The final design phase, construction documents, tentatively planned for 2022, will make the project’s first phase shovel-ready.
Columba Theatre Project Phase One will result in a fully equipped and accessible theatre within the former St. Columba with construction estimated to cost $5 million for roof rehabilitation, stained glass restoration and building construction.
Phase Two will produce the infill building and house facilities at an estimated cost of $3 million. Because both of these buildings are contributing resources within the Cambria City National Historic District, all of the development will be done in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
For more information, contact the Dave Hurst, the author of this article and Executive Director for the Steeples Project.