For Music Hall lovers, pieces of the landmark's history and mystique can now adorn their own homes
Friday pre-sale, then 9-day event offer treasures
Brent Coleman | WCPO contributor
7:00 AM, Nov 8, 2016
6:33 AM, Nov 18, 2016
CINCINNATI -- Here is your chance to bring a piece of Cincinnati's historic Music Hall into your home. Perhaps a set of three red-upholstered theater seats from Springer Auditorium would fit nicely in front of your TV. Or has your master bathroom been crying out for a crystal chandelier?
Big fans of Music Hall and its storied history might want to invest in a $25 ticket that buys a pass to shop 53 lots of Music Hall decor -- some with multiples -- the night before they go on sale in a West End warehouse Nov. 19.
There could be quite a crowd at 1515 Central Parkway when Wooden Nickel co-owner Mike Williams and his staff open the doors at 9 a.m. that Saturday, probably less so the night before.
"It could be a zoo," Williams said of Saturday morning's start to the nine-day, free-admission part of the sale. "I think there will be a lot of interest in the sale just because people want a piece of Music Hall. Judging from the 1,700 website hits we got (the first day photos and prices were posted on www.woodennickelantiques.com), I don't know. I'm going to have to get extra people, for sure. The load-outs are going to be tough, but I've got people we can call in."
The sale’s inventory is most of what Wooden Nickel removed from Music Hall when its $135 million makeover began in early summer. It took Wooden Nickel 140 manhours to clean the 1878 performance and events hall of much of its decor in five days. It could take every one of the 57 hours the sale lasts to sell it all.
Music Hall Director of Operations Scott Santangelo said he expects a good portion of the items to sell the night of Nov. 11. He doesn't anticipate "a mob" the next morning because word about the pre-sale is getting out rapidly.
"I think a lot of people are wanting to get in there early to make sure they get the piece they want. ... I think those (website hit) numbers validate that, and it's good to know."
Williams said he will staff three to four cashiers near the exit of the warehouse. Checkout lines, however, could be long on the sale's first day. Parking on Central Parkway and in the warehouse lot is limited, but Williams and Santangelo said they are looking to borrow space in nearby lots.
Only one item in the sale, a metal fire door removed from the basement ($325), is possibly original to the 129-year-old hall, Williams said. Renovators over the years replaced outdated decorative items, lighting and seating. The hall, however, still housed historic pieces salvaged when old Cincinnati buildings, such as the Burnet House hotel and the Albee Theater, were demolished.
A 15-foot-high gilt mirror that graced the Burnet House as far back as the 1850s is one such piece. It is priced at $7,500. Salvaged this summer but not in the sale are bronze movie poster boxes from the Albee and large corbels originally in the National Theater that depict drama and comedy. Those were donated to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and will hang in a new theater it is building at 12th and Elm streets. The three massive crystal chandeliers that hung in Music Hall's main lobby will be moved upstairs into the expanded Corbett Tower.
What to keep, what to donate and what to sell, Santangelo said, was determined by a committee of the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall. In a sense, Santangelo said, they "separated the wheat from the chaff.”
The SPMH saved busts of Music Hall founder Rueben Springer and Theodore Thomas, the renowned conductor who started the May Festival. Portraits of past conductors also were saved and will be returned to their home in Music Hall. The fate of 1920s copper and brass light fixtures from the hall’s ballroom is undetermined, Santangelo said.
Sure to draw great interest during the sale are upholstered flip-down seats used in the handicap section of Music Hall's main theater, Springer Auditorium. For sale are 14 sets of three-seaters ($275), five sets of two-seaters ($250) and one single seat ($200).
"Those will sell. There won't be any of those left," Williams said, pointing out that they are unusual in that they have long arms on the ends.
Those who fail to nab one of them will have several seating options, including 625 aluminum utility chairs made in the mid-20th century by the Emeco Corp. of Hanover, Pennsylvania. Single seats sell for $75, but bulk rates will apply to those who buy 12 or more, Williams said.
The most expensive item in the sale is a 19-foot-long, quarter-sawn oak bar, the back of which was made by Cincinnati-based Brunswick for a customer in Bloomington, Indiana, in about 1904. The front bar is a reproduction made 30 years ago by Wooden Nickel craftsmen for the Critic's Club event space in Music Hall. The asking price is $20,000.
"That bar is pretty much retail price, but a lot of people would sell it for a lot more," Williams said. The back bar is in excellent shape, he said, but the top of the front bar needs to be redone.
Many of the items in the surplus sale should ring a bell with Cincinnatians who treasure Music Hall, Santangelo said, especially anyone whose team mascot or name is Viking. A large, cast iron sprinkler alarm bell bearing that brand name is among the lots and is priced at $150.
Presale tickets can be purchased at cincinnatiarts.org; at the Aronoff Center Ticket Office, 650 Walnut St.; or by calling 513-621-2787.