Oatman: interior Lovett upgrade underway

Two-year long renovations to Lovett Auditorium are expected to be completed this summer. || Jesse Carruthers/The News

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

Lovett Auditorium, one of the oldest buildings on campus is in the process of getting an upgrade to be completed by this summer.

The historic building has been undergoing renovations for the last two years.

Kim Oatman, chief facilities management officer, said over the last two years, the University has made significant improvements to the exterior of Lovett including roof replacement, masonry waterproofing, window rehabilitation and painting.

“With this current project the focus is now shifting to improving the interior of Lovett,” Oatman said. “The current project is considered to be Phase One of the interior renovations.”

These renovations include improvements to the lobby and second floor areas and will consist of: the addition of two accessible public restrooms, as well as various other improvements to the finishes and electrical and lighting systems.

The restrooms now are located downstairs and are not handicap accessible. Lovett also does not have a space to sell concessions, but designs also include one in the front enterance.

Lovett, which can seat 2,234 people, is still in full use while the renovations are underway.

David Brickeen, assistant director of facilities design and construction, said other renovations to Lovett Auditorium also include plaster repairs and a fresh coat of paint to more neutral tones to match the existing tile work in the lobby area, stairwells and second floor hallway.

“These areas will also be given a lighting upgrade as well as a portable ticket kiosk in the lobby, conversion of the existing coat room to a concessions area and the addition of a men’s and women’s restrooms,” Brickeen said.

President Randy Dunn said two years ago the University invested thousands of dollars in heating and ventilation work, roofing, window re-glazing, tuck pointing and other improvements to show commitment to Lovett.

“What prompted, the work there is twofold.” Dunn said. “One of which is when we were involved with getting the planning and groundwork underway for Hold Thy Banner High, I thought it was a particular need that we should advance in the campaign. We tested it as part of our case and it didn’t seem we would have enough donor support to do a large project there.”

Dunn took the data and set it on hold, until donors came forward through the campaign.

“We did have donors come forward who indicated if we’d be willing to invest on the front end in some infrastructure needs on that building, that they would come behind that and continue to make gifts for other renovations and redecorating as we went forward,” Dunn said.

Oatman said the total cost for the renovations are $215,000.

Phase one was funded by a gift from Charles and Marlene Johnson who are both alumni and long-time Univeristy donors Murray State.

Oatman said future phases will commence as funds become available, but the vision is to renovate and restore the entire auditorium area.

“Future phases have not yet been funded, so it will be dependent on budgets and future donations,” Oatman said.