Stambaugh Auditorium Gets $500K Grant for Renovations

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Stambaugh Auditorium has taken a big step toward funding the restoration of its monumental stairs and other exterior renovations.

The landmark structure on Fifth Avenue has received a $500,000 grant from the Hine Memorial Fund of the Youngstown Foundation, which will go toward the $5 million project.

When complete, the work will return the landmark limestone stairs and concrete promenade – symbols of the 93-year-old building – to their original splendor. Other work will include reconstructing retaining walls, cleaning the exterior of the building, adding lighting and restoring all decorative metalwork.

The project currently has raised $1.9 million, mainly from government funding and foundation grants, said JoAnn Stock, chief development officer of Stambaugh, speaking at a Nov. 11 press conference to announce the grant. Beginning next year, the fundraising effort will target the public.

The work is expected to begin in the spring of 2021 and be complete by the end of that year or early 2022, said Michael McGiffin, chief strategy officer of the auditorium.

In keeping with its mission, the Hine Foundation’s grant will be used to improve handicapped accessibility to the promenade, which is the flat area that is roughly halfway up the stairs, by constructing a wheelchair ramp.

This artist’s rendering shows what Stambaugh Auditorium will look like once the stairs and promenade have been restored and the building facade cleaned. A wheelchair ramp will be added, visible in the foreground and connecting the garden to the promenade.

The ADA-compliant ramp will link the south end of the promenade to the Stambaugh Gardens, where the ramp that leads inside the building and to its elevator is located.

The Hine Foundation, according to program coordinator Crissi Jenkins, provides funding for projects that help disabled children, with the understanding that all disabled people will benefit.

Once restored, the wide promenade, which lies in the shadow of the building’s iconic pillars, may be used for events such as pre-show receptions, said Stock. 

The monumental stairs fell into disrepair from the winter freeze-thaw cycle, with ice-melting salt further eating into the limestone, said McGiffin.

The upper segment of stairs is supported by a steel framework, that had been filled in with construction debris – boards, dirt and discarded items. When reconstructed, it will be underfilled with dirt and will also feature an ice-melting system that will negate the need for salt, said Matt Pagac, general manager of the building.

“We want it to last another 93 years,” he said.

Because Stambaugh Auditorium is on the National Registry of Historic Places, it must be rebuilt with the same look as the original and from the same materials. 

The interior of Stambaugh Auditorium was restored in the 1990s and 2000s, including the concert hall, pipe organ, ballroom and Christman Hall.

Pictured:  Stambaugh Auditorium has received a $500,000 grant to help fund its exterior renovation project. Pictured are, from left, Michael McGiffin, chief strategy officer of Stambaugh; JoAnn Stock, chief development officer; Terry Cloonan, president of the Stambaugh board of directors; Crissi Jenkins, program coordinator of the Hine Memorial Fund; and Matt Pagan, general manager of Stambaugh.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.