Renovation of Historic Light Hall Auditorium Begins

© Western New Mexico University

Silver City, NM – March marked the beginning of the second phase of renovation to the auditorium in Light Hall, one of five historically registered buildings at the Silver City campus.  When completed, the auditorium will serve as a movie theater as well as an area for small productions, intimate concerts, and as a lecture hall.  The first renovation phase, completed two years ago, installed public bathrooms at the front of the auditorium.  The third phase renovates the remaining classrooms and offices.

The current project will include mechanical and electrical upgrades including lighting and chilling equipment necessary to meet code compliance and energy efficiency goals.

“Having another entertainment venue for our students and community is a key element of retaining students and building upon the quality environment that Silver City and the university has to offer,” noted WNMU President Joseph Shepard. “Additionally, Light Hall Auditorium will be a place for lectures and classes that will enhance the learning environment.”

Construction is taking place within the auditorium and lobby areas, including new flooring and updated finishes to the walls and ceiling.  A state-of-the-art light and sound system will be installed along with larger and more comfortable seating.

University Theater Manager Brandon Perrault is excited about the restoration.  “It will be so nice for Western and for the town of Silver City to have access to a smaller 200 (add seat or person) capacity modern auditorium, providing people with an authentic small-theater experience,” Perrault explained.  “But whether it will be used for musical acts, movies or lectures, the plans will modernize the auditorium while maintaining the beautiful historical nature of the building.”

Completed in 1927, Light Hall was named after Dr. Charles M. Light.  Succeeding George Selby as Principal of the ‘New Mexico Normal School’, Professor Light became the first administrator to be given the title of President.  His tenure lasted from 1907 until 1914.

Now one of only 44 properties in Grant County listed on the National Register of Historic Places, substantial time and effort was invested in preserving the building’s historic qualities.

In addition to the interior restoration, an exterior patio will be built for outdoor entertainment and social gatherings on the East and North side of the building.

Work is expected to be complete by the Fall 2014 semester, with minimal disruption to students, staff and faculty. A construction barrier will be erected around the perimeter of the project site, reducing parking spaces and access to the Northwest sidewalk pathway.  Until work is completed, visitors are encouraged to access the Bowden Hall parking lot located off 10th Street between Bowden and Hunter Hall. 

For more information about the restoration, contact Director of Facilities Stan Pena at Stan.Pena@wnmu.edu or 575-538-6715.