By Will Rosson
Small changes are beginning to occur in Richardson Auditorium. Students may notice that the first floor of Christy is bare concrete now, and that’s only the beginning stages of the deconstruction of the well known Richardson Auditorium.
Through the double doors into Richardson, students may not notice the small changes occurring. The original pipe organ, installed in 1952, was disassembled last month and shipped off to the Reuter Organ Company in Lawrence to be cleaned and refurbished. The organ was way past due for an upgrade.
“It’s made out of leather and wood. It’s like medieval technology,” said President Dick Merriman.
The organ will be put back into place once the construction is finished to help prevent damage to the instrument. With the new design of the auditorium, the organ will look different and sound better.
“Instead of having the covers over the chambers, we are going to have nice decorated false pipes, but it will be decorated so it will look really nice when we come back” said Timothy Shook chair of performing arts department.
After the organ was removed from the auditorium, asbestos was removed. Asbestos was in glue that was used to glue down some of the floor and ceiling tiles, insulation in joints, and heating pipes.
Other noticeable changes seen so far are the removal of the carpet in the lobby and hall of the first floor of Christy. Major construction is expected to begin anytime within the next 3 weeks with the removal of the ceiling.
Merriman said, “That will be the first part of the process, and will be the loudest and noisiest part of the project.”
After the ceiling is removed, it is a simple task of gutting the rest of the auditorium out. A new ceiling will be installed with acoustic clouds and catwalks. Along with the ceiling, a new tech booth will be constructed.
Seating will also be much different. The original auditorium sat about 650 people. The new cushioned seats will not only be more comfortable, but bigger as well. The rows of seats will stretch across the whole auditorium and seat about 450 people.
Roger Moon, associate professor of theatre, said, “It will be a lot like a movie theater. You come into a light and sound lock then you turn and go to the side and come down the aisles”
With the major construction to begin any time, Richardson Auditorium will be off limits. Alternate locations for performances, and services, such as the Honors Convocation and the Bachelorette ceremony are currently being planned. The performing arts will be holding their performances in Messenger Auditorium, Winfield High School, and maybe some of the churches in the area. Stewart Field House seems like the logical solution for the more formal ceremonies and services.
“I’m going to be meeting, soon I hope, with a group of seniors so I can tell them what we are thinking of doing, and kind of get their input and their guidance,” said Merriman. “Stewart Field House is good once you’ve invested the effort in a sound system and amplification and all that, and that may be what we do.”
Students will also notice some unwelcome changes outside the auditoriam.. It is unclear at the moment, but more than likely students, faculty and visitors need to prepare for some of the worst parking situation on campus seen in a while.
Merriman said, “It’s going to be affected in a bad way.”
More than likely the entire parking lot north of Christy will be off limits. The whole lot between Christy and Darbeth will probably be fenced off, preventing parking, and foot traffic.
Parking will be hectic, and getting around the Christy first floor might become a challenge at times but in six months Christy will house a more appealing Richardson Auditorium.
Will Rosson is a senior majoring in mass communications. You may e-mail him at