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Memorial Auditorium re-do offers sit-down options for history lovers

WORTHINGTON -- Take a seat. Really, this is your chance to sit down with a piece of the past. Supporters of Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, history aficionados or people simply in need of unique chairs for a special space may wish to ...

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A view of original 1931 Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center seats that will be available for sale Monday and Tuesday. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Take a seat.

 

Really, this is your chance to sit down with a piece of the past.

 

Supporters of Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, history aficionados or people simply in need of unique chairs for a special space may wish to take advantage of what the city-owned facility is offering: the sturdy metal, wood and red-hued relics from MAPAC’s main floor for only $20 each.

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“These seats are the originals,” said MAPAC’s managing director Tammy Makram. “A lot of things about this beautiful auditorium haven’t changed much since it was built in 1931, but the average person’s size has. Also, even though cushions were added to the seats, sitting through longer performances can get uncomfortable.

“Plus, the legroom between rows isn’t extensive and doesn’t meet current code requirements; that was previously grandfathered in, but with renovations being done, that’s something else we need to upgrade.”

 

Work is scheduled at MAPAC this summer, with the lower level seats - and the flooring beneath them - due to be replaced.

 

But first, the public is invited to help clear out the old to make way for the new while contributing a little something to the facility’s continued longevity; money received from the seat purchases will be used for further improvements at MAPAC, as needs arise.

 

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From 1 p.m. 7 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, all interested parties are welcome to drop by MAPAC with cash or checks (made payable to the City of Worthington) in hand to purchase and haul away the distinctive theater seats.

 

“They will be taken out in sections,” explained Makram. “If you’re interested in a smaller number of chairs, you’ll need to dismantle them from those sections on your own.”

 

Any remaining seats will be collected on Wednesday for recycling.

 

“Because we heard numerous requests for the old seats, we realized that people might be interested in them as memorabilia, or great ‘man cave,’ garage, office or entertainment room furniture,” suggested Makram.

 

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“Once the seats are gone, the old flooring will be removed and new epoxy concrete flooring will be installed, along with new carpet.”

 

The floor and seating project, which is largely funded with proceeds from the city’s half-cent sales tax income, is expected to be completed by the end of July. MAPAC’s box office will be closed during most of the renovation period, but will reopen for ticket sales in late July for 2018-19 season performances.

 

Plans are for MAPAC’s balcony seats to be replaced next summer, although that portion of the project will take slightly less time than the lower level because the flooring is not involved.

 

“We believe this improvement will result in greater comfort for all attendees,” said Makram. “There will be expanded legroom, and the seats themselves will be wider, with better cushioning and ergonomic support.”

 

Currently, 390 seats rest on MAPAC’s main floor; the fresh configuration allows for 331 seats, plus eight wheelchair spaces.

 

Preservation purists should fear not: the 2018 seats will reflect and blend in with the auditorium’s original color scheme and will be similar in style to the original seats in an effort to retain the auditorium’s historic look and ambiance.

 

“These seats have served a vital function here for almost 90 years and have provided seating for attendees at all kinds of events for decades,” assured Makram.

 

“But it’s time to consider the comfort of contemporary patrons and our expanding base of support.”

 

MAPAC seats will be available to the public for purchase at 714 13th St., Worthington, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Call 376-9101 for questions about the sale, or for any other MAPAC inquiries during June and July. Messages left at that number will be responded to, or patrons may email questions to thememorialauditorium@gmail.com , visit www.friendsoftheauditorium.com or join MAPAC’s Facebook page (Worthington Memorial Auditorium of Performing Arts).

 

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