Take a seat: Sale gives community chance to keep piece of Lubbock High history

Want a piece of history from the Lubbock High School auditorium, where audiences once sat to watch Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Dorothy Lamour, Amelia Earhart or even alumnus Buddy Holly?

 

The school is selling the seats that have been removed from the auditorium from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 16, but buyers must bring their own tools because some pieces are attached to each other. Those interested should also be ready to take the chairs with them immediately after purchase.

Each chair will be $25, with some sets of two and three coming with the row end caps.

All chairs that are not sold will be thrown away, according to the school's Facebook posting.

Renovations to the Lubbock High auditorium are almost complete, with new seating being one of the biggest improvements. The best of the wooden seats were assembled in the balcony, but all new seating — with padding! — was installed on the main floor. Viewed from behind in the balcony, the new wooden seats resemble the old ones.

Because the building is included in the National Register of Historic Places, LHS Principal Doug Young said, the best of the old seats were put in the balcony to keep some original parts in the theater. Other new features in the theater include lights, sound and stage improvements, new flooring and new window treatments that allow some of the natural light in from the auditorium’s many windows as needed, but block it out for certain productions.

Typically, contractors get to keep anything demolished within a renovation project.

“I was like, ‘Oh, wait a minute,’” Young said of the moment when the contractor told him the seats would all be thrown away, apparently deemed not worth salvaging or recycling.

But he said Lee Lewis Construction gave the high school the seats after the demolition was complete, and plans for a fundraiser selling the seats are underway.

So far, Young is thrilled with the response that Facebook postings about the upcoming sale have brought, as well as the initial response to the sale from LISD employees, who were given the first shot at purchasing the historical seats.

“Does 50,000 count as viral?” Young asked, noting the initial publicity about the sale brought many views on Facebook.

The seats were original to the auditorium, which was completed along with the rest of the school building in 1931. The original capacity of the auditorium was 1,469.

“I would suspect that we still have between 800 and 1,000 chairs,” Young said. “When we started this process, I really thought we could raise a couple hundred bucks.

He had hoped to raise between $500 and $1,000 for the school’s beautification projects. Recently, the school has made improvements between the original building and the newer gymnasiums behind the school across what was 18th Street, which was closed years ago for students to be able to walk freely on campus.

But Young said $1,000 has already been raised from LISD staffers who purchased some of the chairs — a dollar amount Young said nearly caused him to fall from his chair.

“I’m hopeful for $2,000 to $3,000 out of this,” he said.

Two members of the class of 1954 said news of the seat sale brought back fond memories.

Joe Dale Bryan said he would like to have one of the seats — but he’s not quite sure what he would do with it.

He said he is glad the auditorium has nicer seating now.

“It looks real nice, what they’ve got,” Bryan said.

His classmate George Nelson predicted that many Westerners from all over the country would probably like to have one of the seats.

“There’ll be people all over the country who’ll want one of them just out of nostalgia, no doubt about that — even as uncomfortable as they were,” he said.

The old wooden chairs served for a long time, he said, noting that back in the day, people didn’t notice how uncomfortable they were.

“That’s what was there, what you sat in,” he said.

Nelson said he has thought about getting some of the seating.

“Might put them outside on the patio, I don’t know,” he said.

The nostalgia could extend beyond students and alumni of Lubbock High who remember pep rallies and amateur nights in the auditorium, Nelson said.

Since Nelson lived less than two blocks from the school, he said he and other Lubbock residents frequently attended a variety of shows in the LHS auditorium, including a “Passion” play with donkeys on the stage, performances of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, Lions Club minstrel shows and speakers and performers including former presidents, senators, opera and movie stars and even some of Lubbock High’s more famous alumni.

“It was the only auditorium in Lubbock for many, many years,” Nelson said. “Just about every activity you can imagine was there, because it was the only auditorium.”

 

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