Campus News

Bowdoin Donates Theater Seats

Story posted September 15, 1998

Sept. 23, 1998, BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Bowdoin College has found a way to save money and help out two Maine theater companies: It is donating 150 of the seats in Pickard Theater to the Mad Horse Theater in Portland, and 350 seats to a start-up theater in Unity. The remaining 110 seats in Pickard are in such bad shape that they are not worth saving.

"This is mutually beneficial for us," said Greg Hogan, construction manager for Bowdoin's Facilities Management Department. "It saves them money, and we don't have to pay to dispose of the seats."

The seats were removed this month as part of a $9.5 million construction of an experimental theater and renovation of 116-year-old Memorial Hall, including Pickard Theater, which has hosted the Maine State Music Theatre for 40 years. Construction is expected to be completed in January 2000.

Hogan said he checked salvage yards from Boston to Bangor, and no one was interested in the seats. They are made of cast iron frames with wooden seats and backs and cushions covered with orange velour. All the materials would have to be separated before they could be disposed of, and that is labor intensive and expensive. Hogan said he thinks donating the seats saved the college a few thousand dollars.

The donation was a "gift from heaven," said John Sullivan, who is creating the new theater in Unity under the auspices of the Bert and Coral Clifford Foundation. He was anxious to return the favor. Sullivan needs only 200 seats, but decided to take 350 so Bowdoin wouldn't have to pay for their disposal. He now is trying to find theaters around Unity that could make use of them.

Sullivan, who said buying 200 new seats would have cost about $40,000, had called Hogan to ask about the design of the new experimental theater Bowdoin is building next to Memorial Hall. Hogan put Sullivan in touch with the college's development office, which sealed the deal to donate the seats.

"Greg has been instrumental in helping me out," Sullivan said.

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