Stambaugh launches $2.5M drive for improvements

Staff report


The exterior of Stambaugh Auditorium, one of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings, will appear exactly as it did when it was built in 1926 after a planned renovation is complete.

The stately building at the crest of Fifth Avenue is known for its classic Greco-Roman architecture and its signature pillars that sit atop a monumental set of stone steps.

But the building’s limestone facade has never been cleaned in its 87-year history and bears the discoloration of nearly a century in an industrial city.

Cleaning and repointing the exterior is just one of the improvement projects that will be funded by a $2.5 million capital campaign that the Stambaugh trustees have launched. The outdoor steps also will be replaced.

Other renovations will include improvements to the ballroom and kitchen that will increase the functionality and use of the space on the building’s ground level. The improvements also will increase the number of events the ballroom can accommodate, according to a statement from the capital campaign committee.

Improvements to the kitchen and ballroom actually began in July, when the kitchen was completely renovated and a new service corridor, loading ramp, and storage closets were constructed. The renovated kitchen is now fully equipped to meet the needs of any menu.

The ballroom, once the project is complete, will be a more versatile and elegant space.

The kitchen/ballroom project will resume in January with the renovation of the entrance and the addition of a ramp at the public entrance that will make it accessible to the handicapped as per federal regulations.

Future ballroom improvements include a new color scheme, lighting, improvements to the ceiling treatment, the addition of a permanent bar, improvements to the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system and an enlarged performance stage.

The capital campaign has already raised $1 million since the start of a “silent” phase in March. Thirty foundations and private donors have contributed to the campaign at this point.

The upcoming improvements are part of an effort that began in 1984 with the replacement of the original 1926 copper roof, and continued in 1994 with the cleaning and restoration of Anne Christman Hall, a recital and banquet hall on the top floor.

The efforts have also included the addition of air conditioning to much of the facility, upgrades to the electrical and safety services systems, the restoration of the ballroom and concert hall lobbies, the restoration of the west entrance marquee, and the restoration of the 2,553-seat concert hall and stage.

Also included in these improvements have been the recent addition of more than 450 parking spots and handicapped-accessible restrooms.

In 2011, the restoration of the hall’s E.M. Skinner Opus 582 pipe organ was completed. The campaign to restore the organ raised more than $1.4 million and left a fund to insure the maintenance of the massive instrument for years to come.

The Capital Campaign Committee is made up of current and past trustees, community members and Stambaugh Auditorium Staff. The committee members are: Mark Gasser, chair and trustee; Jeanne Tyler, honorary chair and trustee emeritus; Jennifer Gasser, campaign secretary; Jacqueline Bibo, fund development officer; William Conti, director of development relations and capital projects; Terrence Cloonan, trustee president; Jeanne Simeone, trustee vice president; David Konik, trustee treasurer; J. David Sabine, trustee; David Kucharski, director; Margaret Adams, director; and Matt Pagac, general manager.