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Take a seat: Wayne Theatre closer to opening

wayne seatsChristmas arrived a week early at the Wayne Theatre.  American Seating staff arrived with a semi trailer and began unloading the piles of boxes and stacking them in the auditorium.  Within days, 385 brand new, top-of-the-line theatre seats have been installed and are ready for the grand re-opening of the historic Wayne in March 2016.

In January 1926, Colonels Loth and Patterson proudly announced the opening of the Wayne Theatre.  Besides boasting about the most expensive pipe organ in Virginia and the latest in lighting systems all the way from New York City, the Colonels also claimed the Wayne would seat 625 patrons.

It is hard to believe that the auditorium could have held that many seats, but a 1939 interior photo of Wayne shows how that was made possible.  The seats backs were narrow and lined up behind each other, maximizing the capacity. Since the attention was to the movie screen and not to a live person on the stage, the viewing would not be seriously compromised. That is unless a lady in a large hat was seated directly in front.  The seats in the photo appear to be wooden with no cushions and there is no indication there was anything but the minimum leg room.

This will not be the case in the restored auditorium.  The seats chosen are the widest and most comfortable available from American Seating.  Although wooden, the seats are amply padded and are staggered on the theatre’s inclined floor to allow unimpeded viewing of the stage.  An added feature is a cup holder that will allow patrons to purchase beverages at the new concession stand and bring them into the theatre.

Currently over two hundred of the arm rests have been removed so that they can be engraved with the names of seat donors or those whom the donors wish to honor.  Tom Brown, Chair of WTA Seats Committee, urged others to join him in purchasing the naming right to one or more seats in the

Wayne Auditorium.  “There are few times in our lives when we have an opportunity to really recognize family and friends in a way that touches community history. Generations of family members will look for ‘their’ seat and newcomers will wonder who the person is/was whose name is on the arm rest of the seat they are occupying in the restored auditorium.”

Purchase of naming rights for the remaining seats may be made by calling the WTA office at 540-943-9999.

The Historic Wayne Theatre Ross Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open in March 2016.  The March through June 2016 season will be announced shortly. Tickets for the many events will be available online.

For more information visit the Wayne Theatre website ( or call the Wayne Theatre Alliance office at 540-943-9999.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press