NEW ULM - The District Administrative Center parking lot was a strange sight on Friday afternoon, as the New Ulm Actors Community Theatre (NUACT)?offered a sale of the wooden seats formerly housed in the center section of the historic WPA auditorium.
Several rows of wooden seats lined the parking lot, ready to be brought to new homes. People chose their seats meticulously, then enlisted help to bring them to their cars.
Paul Warshauer, Executive Director of NUACT, explained that the seats were expected to be bought by people who attended what was built as New Ulm High School, and subsequently became New Ulm Middle School, anytime from its inception until its closure in 2007. He suspected that buyers were nostalgic and eager to own a piece of the school's history.
And a piece of history the seats are, indeed. According to preliminary research surrounding the project, the wooden seats that so many have become familiar with are the auditorium's original seats. The seats have been used during countless graduations, civic events, concerts, plays and other events over an almost 76-year period.
Despite the seats' historic relevance, NUACT decided that it was time to update. The new seats, purchased by NUACT through a donation from Gislason & Hunter LLP, are blue and cushioned. They boast built-in trays that can be used to hold refreshments during performances. These trays can also be used for writing when the auditorium is rented out for seminars and meetings.
Although the group initially offered single seats for sale, it proved difficult to separate them. Instead, the public was offered either a pair of seats with no endcap, a pair with an endcap or a set of four with an endcap. NUACT asked buyers to donate at least $15, $25 and $50 for them, respectively. The seats including endcaps were more expensive because of the highly sought-after crests present on them. The group plans to use the collected money for theatre development and operations.