Story by Cody Hall, Contributing writer
Student groups and organizations that use the stage in Wrather West Kentucky Museum have been advised to take their events elsewhere as a precautionary measure due to the condition of the stage.
Wrather’s stage has shown signs of its age and in some parts has begun to sag. Although there is no clear damage to the stage, for the sake of safety, officials are advising groups and organizations to find another venue.
Named after M.O. Wrather, an administrator for Murray State, in 1982, Wrather is the oldest building on campus and was built in 1924. Initially, it was the administrative building. The building has had multiple uses and in 1975 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Murray State’s website.
“There is nothing structurally wrong with the stage,” said Jason Youngblood, assistant director for facilities design and construction. “There are some sag spots in it, but nothing to be fearful of.”
They are currently evaluating the entire auditorium in Wrather to potentially redo much of the interior and make it more modern, Youngblood said.
This would not be the first time that work has been done on Wrather. Last year, the roofing was replaced to keep it intact. Youngblood hopes that the auditorium can be updated in a way that it will be more beneficial to the academics of Murray State.
Wrather stage is a host to various organizations, including multiple Greek organizations, recognition ceremonies and multiple classes each week.
Any renovations done to the auditorium will not interfere with the historic aspects of the building, Youngblood said. Any renovations done will not begin for another year or two, if at all.
“The only thing we are recommending at this time is that they limit the amount of people that are on the stage,” said Shawn Touney, director of communications. “It’s a 90-year-old facility and is still being used. It’s just a precautionary measure.”
Renovations to the stage might be possible if the university is able to find the budget to do it. The amount that will be needed is still unknown, and the team of designers that are investigating the stage are working on determining the cost.
If there are not enough funds to redo the entire auditorium, their focus will just be on getting the stage back to good condition, Touney said.
With these renovations, facilities management hopes to add curtains to the stage, new lighting and better sound systems and improve the integrity of the stage to remove the sagging spots, Youngblood said.
With the growing size of the university, there is a need for larger classrooms around campus. Having a new, modern Wrather will help by providing a whole auditorium for classes that need the space, Youngblood said.