Monday, January 11, 2010

Sangamon Auditorium patron donates funds for handrails

Patrons at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium no longer have to worry about taking a tumble on the steep stairs thanks to a generous gift.

Pam Reyhan has been enjoying shows at the auditorium for the past 15 years and knows how tricky the stairs can become, especially in the dark. When she was asked if she’d be willing to help finance the installation of handrails to prevent patrons from falling, the choice was simple.

“I hate to say it, but I’m getting to an age where I need them and all my friends need them,” said Reyhan.

Reyhan donated the funds to purchase and install the handrails for the 2,018 seat auditorium, which opened in February of 1981.

“I talked to the architect about why they had designed the railings the way they ultimately emerged,” said Robert Vaughn, Sangamon Auditorium director. “(The architect) said I was a lot younger then.”

Associate Chancellor of Development Vicki Megginson led the effort to secure the funding, while Facilities & Services Administration Executive Director David Barrows came up with the design.

The handrails were installed by the beginning of the 2009-10 season and the auditorium hasn’t experienced a single fall since. Vaughn says in the previous season, before the handrails, they had nine minor falls reported by patrons.

“We are very grateful for Pam’s support in doing this and helping us with the project,” said Vaughn.

Reyhan’s family has owned Sangamo Construction in Springfield for almost 100 years and she’s glad to be able to give back to the community.

“I’ve had so many complements. You have no idea the number of people who have come up to me and said we love the handrails thank you so much,” said Reyhan.

Reyhan says she also enjoys the fact that her gift to the university will be long lasting, helping others long into the future.

“It will last until they fall apart and they need new ones and I hope to god I’m not here then,” joked Reyhan.

For more information about Sangamon Auditorium visit:

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