An extra-alarm fire tore through Second City's Old Town offices yesterday afternoon, injuring five and coming dangerously close to igniting the company's next-door theater. To get a sense of what was lost in the blaze, Chicago called Second City CEO and executive producer Andrew Alexander this morning as he assessed damage to the building. Below is an edited transcript of that conversation.
What all did you lose?
We lost two levels of offices—all of our complete finance department, all of our corporate communications department. Our Producers Row [the corridor where Second City's creative bosses work] has some mild damage, but nothing dramatic. We lost probably 6,000 to 7,000 square feet of space.
Did you lose any archival material? Scripts, footage, photos, memorabilia?
On a personal level I did. There were photos that I didn't have backups of—lots of stuff with John Candy, photos with the whole cast, personal memorabilia from 50 years of history with the company. But our archives are all stored offsite, in a place that specializes in keeping things safe and fireproof, so the scripts and photos are all saved. It's a valuable part of our history, so we want to make sure we have it secure, and it pays off in instances like this.
Where are you all working out of now?
Well, right now we’re all standing outside the building with our cell phones looking for office space. Steppenwolf was kind enough to give us their theater tonight, so our touring company is performing there, and the History Museum is lending space for the Mainstage.
What other programming adjustments have you had to make?
Well, we have over 150 employees and none of us are allowed in the building yet. Not being able to get in is difficult, and there's a lot of damage in the buildings. Hopefully we'll open next week for Mainstage shows.
Have you been inside yet?
Yeah, I’ve been through, and it's pretty bad. The roof is all caved in, and the Adobo Grill on the first floor [where the fire started] is gutted.
Do you have a game plan for rebuilding?
Well, we’re already in construction. We had 25,000 square feet we were renovating toward the new training center. It'll probably take us three to four months to get back in. It's a mess, but we'll fix it.
second city theater area in good shape small amount of water lobby and other areas sustained damage pic.twitter.com/8y9MbZ00nu
— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) August 26, 2015