Friends of the St. Lawrence Church focused on the restoration of the parish hall half of the building with plans on restoring the sanctuary once the parish hall is omplete and functional. Beginning in 1997 with demolition and masonry repair, Friends of the St. Lawrence Church moved steadily forward in the construction progress. Early demolition was conducted by volunteers that included Up With People, Wayneflete School, Americorps, the Boy Scouts and court-ordered juveniles performing community service. Later, Friends entered into the Youth and Union Partnership, sponsored by the Maine Department of Labor and including several area union locals, the Training Resource Center, Preble Street Resource Center and Youthbuild, as a school-to-work project for disadvantaged teenagers.
In 1998 Friends received a large community development block grant from the City of Portland, which funded the replacement of the slate and copper roof on the parish hall, a major step in the restoration of the building. Private donations and grants from the Unum Foundation, Libra Foundation, Edward Daveis Benevolent Fund, the Maine Community Foundation and others allowed for the restoration of masonry, windows and trim. This made the building ready, in early 2000, to commit to professional theater as it was already turning to interior restoration issues. The City of Portland had granted another large community development block grant which allowed for the installation of the large utilities and fire controls and alarms necessary for modern fire code. Construction plans included the installation of heat, thanks to a gas-fired boiler donated by Northern Utilities and help from the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization, a radiant floor, sprinklers, 3-phase power and a wheelchair lift. The theater was equipped with padded, arm chairs, 8 inch seating risers and 100 state of the art theater lights. After raising over 50,000 and hundreds of thousands more in donations of services and materials, in May of 2001, the parish hall theater opened with project collaborator Acorn Production's rendition of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.