To: Mark Fatla, Executive Director, Community Technical Assistance Center
From: Glenn A. Walsh, Life Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library
Subject: Restoration of Seating in the Music Hall of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library
Date: February 1, 2000
Attachments: “A Brief History of New England Conservatory of Music”
“A Brief History of Jordan Hall”
“The Restoration – “Beautifying Jordan Hall at NEC”
“Elements of the Restoration”
Copy: Board of Trustees, Andrew Carnegie Free Library
Advisory Board, Andrew Carnegie Free Library
Friends of the Library, Andrew Carnegie Free Library
Mary D. Malysko, Library Director, Andrew Carnegie Free Library
Carnegie Performing Arts Center
Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves
Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Southwest Pittsburgh
In regards to the rehabilitation of the Music Hall of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, there has been much discussion, among members of the Library Board of Trustees, about the restoration or possible replacement of the Music Hall seating.
I feel very strongly that our Music Hall’s historic mahogany seats should be restored, rather than replaced with modern seating. As I mentioned at the December Library Board meeting, the historic value of the Library’s original furnishings will be one of the major attractions that will bring people to the Library and Music Hall in the future. This will be particularly important for our Music Hall, since this venue’s seating capacity is rather small. An historic Music Hall, with all-modern seating, will not attract as many people as an historic Music Hall, which retains its historic mahogany seats with new vinyl cushions.
Attached is information from the Internet Web site of Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music(the oldest independent school of music in the United States, founded in 1867), regarding the 1995 rehabilitation of the Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. Jordan Hall is quite similar to the Music Hall of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. At 1,000 seats, Jordan Hall is just a little larger than our Music Hall, which has 788 seats. Jordan Hall is two years younger than our Music Hall(Jordan Hall opened on October 20, 1903; our Music Hall opened on May 10, 1901). Jordan Hall received National Historic Landmark status immediately following the 1995 rehabilitation; the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall was registered on the National Register of Historic Places on October 8, 1981.
The cost for the 1995 rehabilitation of Jordan Hall was $8.2 million. As you look through the attached materials, you can see that this was a “Taj Mahal”-type rehabilitation for a venue operated by one of the nation’s leading music schools in a city somewhat larger than Pittsburgh. However, this information gives a fair idea of some of the things we need to consider for the rehabilitation of our Music Hall. The Jordan Hall rehabilitation was featured in a PBS-TV special, which aired a few years ago on
I would like to point-out that, despite the overall high cost of the 1995 rehabilitation of Jordan Hall, the New England Conservatory of Music did not go to the extra expense of buying all new seating. They chose to restore the original, historic seats of Jordan Hall, with the addition of new vinyl cushions. The hard seating of our Music Hall, with no cushions(except a small supply of portable cushions provided by Stage 62), is one of the chief complaints of visitors to our Music Hall.
Mark Fatla February 1, 2000 Page 2 of 2
The cost of seat restoration, at Jordan Hall, was $180 per restored seat; the total cost for the restoration and reinstallation of all 1,000 seats came to $205,276. These seats were restored by Country Roads, Inc., 125 East Washington Street, Greenville, Michigan 48838; this is the same company Gina Fleitman, of Stage 62, had recommended for seat restoration a few years ago. Further, the cost of new carpeting, provided by Congress Flooring Corp., came to about $53,600. These costs were provided to me by Erika O’Leary in the Office of Finance and Administration of the New England Conservatory of Music.
In addition to historic value, cost also favors seat restoration, rather than replacement of our Music Hall seating. It is unlikely that good quality public seating can be acquired for less than $180 per seat.
Leg-room has also been a major concern for visitors to our Music Hall. Hence, any rehabilitation of our Music Hall should include additional leg-room for visitors. This will mean that the risers, in each row, will have to be changed to allow for the additional leg-room.
This will result in fewer seats, which can be accommodated in the Music Hall. Instead of 788 seats(the Music Hall was originally designed for 800 seats), the seating capacity may need to be reduced to the 650-700 range. Of course, this also means that fewer seats will need rehabilitation.
The Borough of Carnegie and the Chartiers Valley are quite fortunate to have such a wonderful Music Hall. Unlike many similar venues, our facility has maintained most of its historic architecture and furnishings. It would normally be difficult to compete with larger venues in more affluent communities, due to the smaller seating capacity of our Music Hall. However, with a Music Hall, which contains the original historic seats, after rehabilitation, we will be able to compete more effectively with other venues.
The future of the Music Hall of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library depends on capitalizing on our history. This capitalization must be maximized by restoring the Music Hall’s original mahogany seats.