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The campus performance and work spaces of the University Theatre are located principally in McKinley Hall and Beegle Hall.  With your schedule of classes, rehearsals, production preparations, and time spent seeking special favors from your kindly professors, these are spaces you will come to know well.

B.3.a  Some History.

McKinley Auditorium, as it was originally called, was constructed in 1941.  It was named after forty-one-year Seattle Pacific Board of Trustees member and Free Methodist preacher C. S. McKinley, who is credited with altering the institution’s direction in 1912, from exclusive Seattle Seminary to an interdenominational Seattle Pacific College, and with later urging the discontinuance of the Seattle Pacific High School in 1936. 

From 1941 to 1970, McKinley Auditorium—which then seated 500 on a barely-raked main floor and balcony—was the meeting place for Seattle Pacific’s daily chapel program.  Through the years the McKinley proscenium stage was used countless times for concerts, talent shows, coronations, commencement, church services, and baptisms.  The baptismal pool is still in place, located under the upstage center flooring.  During war-delayed construction, a pipe organ was purchased from the Neptune Theatre, forcing the un­planned addition of the present stage house to house the pipe room and an expanded platform.  Used seats were purchased from the demolished Metropolitan Theatre, once Seattle’s premiere playhouse, located in the space now enclosed by the Olympic Four Seasons Hotel downtown.

From 1943 to 1977, the lower floor of McKinley housed the Home Economics department, with offices, classroom, kitchens, and clothing construction labs.  The theatre production program was not allowed use of these spaces—even during performances—for fear of cutting tables becoming smeared with make-up.

In the mid-1950s, plays were cautiously introduced on campus, and were well-established by the early 1960s, although productions were seriously compromised by twice-daily chapel use of the space.  Sets were allowed to be anchored in place for no more than three chapel days, and then only if there was no marring of the polished oak stage floor.  And, of course, there was the organ console sticking up fourteen inches over the platform down­stage right; fourteen feet from curtain line to rear wall, no fly, minuscule wing space; two lighting positions out front, plus a temporarily batten flown-in.  There was no shop or costume lab.

In 1970 the chapel program was moved to the First Free Methodist Church, and the theatre program, then called the Dramatic Arts track of the Department of Speech, incrementally assumed ownership, although the Home Economics department remained in control of the lower floor spaces until 1977 when it moved to Peterson Hall, into spaces recently vacated by the Chemistry department labs through the opening of the Miller Science Learning Center.  McKinley had become so worn that nobody but theatre would have it.

In the early 1980’s, and after much lobbying, the administrative officials decided that the building should be refurbished to serve the performance programs of music and theatre.  What began as a promise of new paint and upholstery for the seats was manipulated into a major project through application of a strong vision of what the space could become. 

In fairness, it needs to be noted that a third full-time faculty position—the scenographer—was added that at time, followed, along with the remodeling, by the technical director position.  The administration, thus, vested the theatre program with significant legitimacy.)

The formal dedication of the renovated McKinley Hall occurred on November 20, 1986.

The Bach Performing Arts Theatre was named in honor of major benefactors, Dr. Edward E. Bach and his wife Dorothy.  For over forty years, Dr. Bach practiced optometry in Anchorage, Alaska.  His wife’s commit­ment to music provided major impetus for their gift.

The Dorothy Boyd Kreider gallery after was named to honor the longtime chair of the Home Economics department, a person of rare graciousness, and an enthusiastic supporter of the arts on campus.  The renovation costs were just over one million dollars, fully equipped.  The Theatre faculty was allowed full consultation in the renovation planning.

Beegle Hall grew out of a post-war attempt to establish an Industrial Arts Department.  In addition to providing vocational training and appealing to avocational interests, the new program was conceived as complementing the education of teachers and missionaries.  Woodworking was prominent in the first offerings, with a machine shop—the site of today’s theatre shop—added to the tiny building in 1949.  At one time it was used for automobile repair courses as well.  At that time plans to enlarge the building to it’s present con­figuration were laid.  Construction was directed by the Industrial Arts professor and carried out using student help.  The finished building, with its second-floor lecture hall and classrooms, was finally dedicated in 1962.  It was named in honor of Professor Burton Beegle, longtime mathematics teacher.

With the demise of the industrial arts program in the early 1960’s, along with Seattle Pacific’s Flight School, Secretarial Science program, and sign language courses, the building was occupied by the Physics and Mathematics departments until 1977 when the Miller Science Learning Center (MSLC, now Otto Miller Hall) opened. The theatre Technical Director’s office and the small rooms on the mezzanine level are now used for costume storage. The department won assignment of our present Beegle Hall spaces in 1978, although an awkward relationship was created by positioning an orchestra room adjacent to a scene shop. 

Next Section: B3b: Configurations

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