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Pittsburgh News - June 4, 2000

Theater's chairs fit into historical society's plans

By Vince Guerrieri

When Steve Fatla was asked where producers of the University of Pittsburgh's annual "Scope and Scalpel" revue could get more chairs, the answer practically fell on him.

In April, Fatla, the manager of Antonian Theater at Carlow College, directed a production of "Our American Cousin" at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. One day, while the production was in rehearsal, Fatla leaned against a row of chairs in the lecture hall of the century-old library.

He thought they were bolted down, but they toppled over.

The 40 wood-backed, cushioned chairs, originally from a theater in downtown Carnegie, were made available for the Pitt medical students' recent production. Now, they're in the Carnegie Historical Society headquarters and are to become part of the society's $1 million renaissance.

"They get around, don't they?" Fatla asked admiringly.

The chairs are on the second floor of the historical society building on the East Mall in Carnegie, steps away from the Mellon Bank parking lot, the former location of the Grand Theater.

Marcella McGrogan, director of the historical society, said the chairs will be used on the third floor to seat people for videos about Carnegie history.

"They're perfect for what we're going to use them for," she said.

The historical society is in the initial stages of a capital campaign. A committee will try to raise $1 million to refurbish the old bank building the historical society has called home for the last three years.

When the renovations are finished, the first floor will house a gift shop and materials for genealogical research. The second floor will house offices and meeting rooms, and the fourth floor will have a community room for fund-raisers, dances and reunions, McGrogan said.

In addition to the video room, the third floor will hold the miniature Main Street, a model constructed by Walter Stasik, a Robinson Township man who grew up in Carnegie.

The model of Main Street in its pre-pedestrian mall days includes cafeterias, barber shops, haberdasheries and all four theaters downtown.

The roof on the model Grand Theater opens up to reveal the seats and screen of the theater. All four theaters were run by McGrogan's father, a local doctor.

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