The restoration of a 75-year-old auditorium on the University of Central Arkansas campus is under way.
Renovations of Ida Waldran include a lift that will allow access to the stage, new stage stairs, stage floor refinishing, refinishing of auditorium flooring, new seating installation, resurfacing of acoustical panels, and installation of brass railing around the orchestra pit and stage stairs.
The first phase of the renovations of Ida Waldran will be completed by the end of February. The auditorium is located in Old Main.
The condition of the auditorium has deteriorated due to years of budget constraints. The university received a $300,000 grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council and funding from the UCA Student Government Association for the project. Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council awards funds to preserve and maintain state-owned natural areas and historic sites.
"This is just the beginning to the list of changes that will be implemented in the year to come,” said Gayle Seymour, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication and a member of the committee overseeing the renovations of Ida Waldran auditorium.
Ida Waldran auditorium was opened in 1937 and has become one of UCA’s most recognizable facilities on campus. For more than 70 years, Ida Waldran has been the host location of significant people and events including the opening ceremonies of the Women’s Army Corps Branch No. 3 in 1943, a vocal concert by President Truman’s daughter, Margaret, and presentations by TV journalists Peter Jennings and Sam Donaldson as well as Presidents Ford and Clinton. The renovations will provide the city of Conway with a venue for community performing arts.
University officials plan to write a third grant for the renovation of the first-floor hallway, which will include restrooms.
Seymour said that the UCA community should be proud to have such an important building on its campus.
“Old Main is the oldest building on our campus and serves as the architectural inspiration for most of the other buildings on campus,” she said. “The goal of this renovation project is to honor that history and restore Old Main and Ida Waldran as a focal point of the campus.” - Lisa Burnett