The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 12, 2012

Convention Hall nearly ready for Sunday opening

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid’s historic Convention Hall may not be recognizable to some people when it opens, even though many parts of the building have been saved and restored.

Keller Taylor, general manager of the building, said he is proud workers have been able to save and restore many of the building’s original features. He said trim around the stage in the main ballroom and the lighting feature around the stage have been saved and restored to close to their original look, and the dressing rooms offstage have been modernized and restrooms updated.

Much of the building was changed on the inside.

The main ballroom occupies 11,000 square feet of the 53,000-square-foot building. About 600 people can be seated in a banquet-style design.

There also are seven meeting rooms and a board room, Taylor said. He and his staff will have offices in the building.

Taylor said in the second-floor junior ballroom, the columns, trim and leaflets are the originals from 1921, when the building was constructed, and much of the original plaster work was repaired. The 3,000-square-foot ballroom will accommodate 200 people, banquet-style.

In the main ballroom, which once was Mark Price Arena, the lower-lever seating was removed and a wall built.

The original building, built as a memorial to World War I veterans, was four stories tall and had two balconies. City Manager Eric Benson said all four stories have been saved and refurbished.

“The kitchen was a giant piece of it,” Benson said.

On the first floor, the new kitchen has a refrigeration and freezing area for keeping meat and vegetables fresh until they are used, Taylor said. It has three fryers and 10 ovens. The kitchen also boasts a separate beer and wine cooler, along with hot boxes to keep food warm after preparation until it is served. Taylor said the hot boxes can hold 600 meals.

The building was renovated as part of Enid Renaissance Project, which also includes construction of the new Enid Event Center, scheduled for completion in the spring.

Several events are scheduled this week leading up to Sunday’s official re-opening of Convention Hall.

A city of Enid Christmas dinner is slated in the facility tonight. A luncheon set for Thursday will feature presentations in the Grand Ballroom. Those attending will receive commemorative scissors and be invited to participate in the ribbon-cutting. Tickets are $25 each, or $200 for a table of 10.

Enid Arts Council will have a fundraiser beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday with a cocktail hour in the north lobby. Dinner will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom.

Later that evening, a Beatles tribute group, A Hard Night’s Day, will perform Beatles favorites. Tickets are $40 each, or $75 for a couple.

Tickets for the Thursday luncheon and Friday’s Enid Arts Council fundraiser are available by calling (580) 616-7362 or visiting the Enid Welcome Center in Cherokee Strip Conference Center, 123 W. Maine.

The grand re-opening concludes Sunday with an open house 2-5 p.m. The open house will come after a Veterans Day parade beginning at 1:30 p.m. The open house will include free food and drinks, family activities and performances on the Grand Ballroom stage.

Many people in Enid believed Convention Hall, which was built in 1921, was in danger of demolition. The building had been closed since 2009 due to issues with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. A group calling itself Friends of Convention Hall formed to find alternatives to demolition and worked with city officials to get the renovations included in Enid Renaissance Project plans.