Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Last Look Within Robinson Center Before the Second Act

What changed? As Robinson Center reopens with a newly designed auditorium, lobby, dressing rooms and an entirely new conference center, look through these images taken the last day the unrenovated space was opened to the public.

I was on hand three years ago when the first word was shared - Robinson Center Auditorium, a Little Rock landmark, was going to undergo a transformation.

On June 26th, 2015, Grav Weldon and I were allowed one last adventure inside the old building. Here are some of the photos we took.
Small, cramped dressing rooms accessed by a long walk around or a spiral staircase from the stage were something I grew up with. Grav captured this singular image without me knowing about it. 

Plaster casts like this one once adorned the original conference center, which was below the original theater.

The escalators that once took visitors up to the theater level are now gone.

The original hall between the lobby and the auditorium. Today, the arches are gone, and where the right wall once bore entry both to restrooms and the hall, now there's an airy opening and grand staircase.

The original floor with Little Rock's seal, leading into the auditorium.

A look at the old auditorium, complete with the old revolving light (that hadn't spun in decades).

A light box with bulbs.
Grav shot directly up into the cables and curtains of the original stage for this shot. This distance is now 31 feet greater.

The old original seats had been reupholstered over the years, but the original narrow seats did still bear the seal of the city of Little Rock.

Then-governor Mike Beebe makes the official speech closing the facility.

To begin the reno, dozens of state officials tore up the old stage with crowbars.

This depository slot was on the west side of the building.

The former two-level convention center below the auditorium was cavernous. The door at the top lead out onto street level.

This was the original convention center hall below the auditorium. That back wall is now the back wall of the stage.

Skylights brought light down into a wood-paneled space in the old center.

Mr. and Mrs. Robinson's portraits above the door to the main lobby of Robinson Center. The paintings have been returned to a place of honor in the new auditorium.

The old windows onto the lobby were dusty and marked with time.

Wooden details covered most of the original interior.

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