In October of 2018 the Friends of the Grande performed a structural inspection of all three floors of the Grande Ballroom building. Undertaken with the cooperation of the current owners Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church, professional services were paid for with funds raised via a GoFundMe campaign.
A structural engineer and a disaster recovery/roofing contractor were part of the team that toured and analyzed the building. Photos and HD video from this visit and from earlier Aerial Drone overflights were used to compile a structural integrity report. This report is an integral part of the due diligence necessary for stabilization and restoration decision making.
Discovered was a building in surprisingly good shape considering the amount of deferred maintenance over the past 25 + years. A significant number of roof panels have failed exposing the lower ceilings to the sky and elements. Water has invaded the Grande causing damage to plaster and other soft elements such as wood. That said, the Ballroom was built during a time of prosperity when many similar structures were also extremely “overbuilt.” Huge reinforced concrete trusses and columns used throughout the structure are in very good condition. Vast steel trusses, some 80 feet in length support the roof over the dance floor and exhibit only minor surface rust. This concrete and steel skeleton is the Ballroom’s saving grace. A lesser wooden structure would have completely rotted away under similar conditions. The basement is relatively dry and the foundation solid. All windows were completely boarded over in September of 2017.
“.. the structure is in much better condition than expected …. While it needs repairs, the repairs are relatively minor and the structure is in no danger of collapse during repairs as long as no large construction loads are added to it.” Grande Structural Report.
In summary this phase of due diligence is closed. Based upon these discoveries, the Grande Ballroom is considered viable for stabilization, restoration and adaptive re-use. This status coupled with its recent inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places clears the way for additional business case planning, grant writing and fundraising.
Friends of the Grande