YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The old crumbling steps that once led to the main doors of Youngstown’s Stambaugh Auditorium are now gone, replaced by shiny, new concrete steps.
It took 10 years and $4.1 million to get to this point, and Tuesday evening, the ribbon was cut on Stambaugh’s monumental staircase and promenade.
They stood on the promenade, with a few others a half dozen steps up, and cut the ribbon for Stambaugh Auditorium’s new staircase.
Then, one by one, the hundred people who gathered became the first to walk the 25 new steps to the front door.
“We quickly learned it was not a cosmetic project, it was a structural project,” said Stambaugh general manager Matt Pagac.
Before the ribbon-cutting, Pagac took the audience through the project as he did with anchor/reporter Stan Boney in February 2018. At the time, the steps were cracked, chipped and spreading. Underneath, the steel was rusting. Eventually, the steps would fail.
“We wanted to preserve the original stone but when we started removing it, it just wasn’t going to happen. It crumbled in the way. It looked like it was crumbling when it was sitting here. It completely crumbled when we pulled it apart,” Pagac said.
So, all of the stone on the staircase is new.
What they thought would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars cost $4.1 million.
“There were just so many projects and they were all big or at least they seemed big until we got to this one, and this one we were always aware of. We just didn’t know how we were going to pull it off,” said Mark Gasser, president of the Stambaugh Board of Directors.
Before the National Anthem, the flag was raised on one of two new flag poles.
Much of the original, though, remains, like the stone piers on both sides, the pillars, most of the retaining walls and the two large urns.
The state of Ohio provided $1.35 million and state Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan, who lives in the neighborhood, was pleased.
“My husband and I walk or drive by this building on a daily basis. When we drive by here now, it just totally takes our breath away,” Lepore-Hagan said.
Not all of the $4.1 million to build the new steps has been raised. The project is still about $500,000 short.