The Grand Opening Celebration
Mrs. Elsie Hatcher, who was among the opening night chairmen, said that despite the unconventional choice of venue, the enclosed bank parking lot allowed for easy access for people to walk from the Capitol Arts Center. She recalled that initially they had planned to use big tents for the gala but the threat of possible bad weather led them to decide on the use of the lower level parking lot which provided concrete shelter protection both above and below. To help transform the space, Mrs. Hatcher remembered Mitchell Leichhardt, “practically emptied their nursery and brought all sorts of potted plants and trees.” She also remembers Russell Jefferson helping and that local electricians donated their time to help string-up lights in the space. Echoing Mrs. English’s sentiments, Mrs. Hatcher said, “it really turned out to be a pretty place.” Mrs. Hatcher said she and her fellow chairs, Mrs. Kay Cole and Mrs. Joy Beth Eastin (Dunn) divided up the duties, adding that, “It was fun and we enjoyed doing it.”
The gala event was followed by a week-long celebration (lasting September 12-19, 1981) commemorating the theatre’s renaissance and included performances and activities geared to special audiences such as a puppet show and a craft workshop for children, a teen variety show, a women’s performance, and a country-western show starring Porter Wagoner. Mrs. English also remembered the Vice President of Estee Lauder coming from New York to do a cosmetics presentation which she said was very well received by the women.
While the opening night event and the subsequent week-long activities was an opportunity to celebrate this major milestone of completing the building, the goal was also to raise funds to achieve other aims of the Capitol Arts Center. We explore some of these missions as well as the organizational structure in our next installment of Through the Years: Curtain Call.
Images courtesy of the Dept. of Library Special Collections, WKU
WE WELCOME YOUR INPUT: This series is a work in progress based on your feedback and remembrances. If you were involved in area arts efforts and have photos, programs, or other information related to the Capitol Arts Center or SKyPAC, please contact Rob Hankins at 270.904.5004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.