Turn Up the House Lights!
Laxson gets a makeover!
No more need for low lighting to cover an aging Laxson interior. An extreme makeover and remodel displays the Romanesque architecture and elegance of Laxson at its best. Choices of color, chair fabric, and carpeting were made to work like a theatre set, said Dan DeWayne, director of University Public Events, to direct eyes to the exquisite detail of Laxson. The choices seem to be working. The primary comment heard by the proud team that made the remodel happen is, “I never saw that before!”
“That” could be the scrollwork on the sides of the cast-iron seats, now gilded with red and green accents; it might be the painted arch over the stage; or even the glass display cases with their green, yellow, and red details in the lobby. The scrollwork on the seats has a new paint job. But the arch was always painted as it is, and the interesting woodwork of the cases in the lobby has always been there.
What is new is 1,579 square yards of wine- and gold-patterned carpeting that echoes grand theatres of an earlier time, rounded, matte black seat backs, wine-colored seat cushions, the stage floor, and the dressing rooms.
“I wanted everything in the remodel to enhance the architectural beauty of Laxson,” said Dan DeWayne, director of University Public Events. “I wanted it to be reflective of the university as a major performance venue in the North state.”
The remodeling project was a true collaboration said DeWayne. “The whole UPE department has been interested in upgrading the facility in every way possible to keep Laxson a state-of-the-art performance venue. The entire UPE staff was involved,” said DeWayne. “Dan Goodsell was the lead person in making sure the project moved forward, keeping in contact with FMS and the sub-contractors.”
In addition to Goodsell, director of Outreach for Chico Performances/UPE, Steve Ellis, technician for Laxson, and Henry Maas, Facilities Management Services, each played key roles. Rob Thacker, FMS, coordinated sustainable recycling of old materials.
The team had a “hurry” order on it because of the Botany 2006 conference that was happening at the end of July. (Laxson was a primary venue for conference sessions for the 1,000 participants.) A process that might still be going on, the team admits, was mercifully squeezed into the time available between the end of the spring season and the end of July.
This is the first major remodel of Laxson since 1976, when plush padded seats replaced the old wooden seats, carpeting was laid and a $1 million earthquake renovation was completed.
Laxson was built in 13 months for $288,703. Construction began on May 2, 1930, and the building was dedicated in January 1932 during the inauguration ceremonies for President Aymer Jay Hamilton. It was first called Assembly Hall, then College Auditorium, and then University Auditorium. It was officially named Laxson Auditorium on September 25, 1974, for C. Robert Laxson, a music professor at CSU, Chico from 1946 until his death in 1968.
Laxson Before, During, and After
Photos of Laxson by Sandy Miskella, University Public Events
and Lilita McLain