And sure enough, Tuesday afternoon, George Culver, back in his former position of 12 years as executive director for Antique Talladega and The Ritz Theatre, had 112 theatre seats sitting out on the sidewalk headed for their new home inside The Ritz.
“I feel like a proud parent,’ Culver said, pointing to the rows of newly refurbished seats he nabbed from Birmingham’s Virginia Samford Theatre.
The seats are headed for the theatre’s mezzanine level, where folding chairs have been the accommodations since the balcony reopened.
When Culver heard that the Virginia Samford Theatre was being refurbished, he worked with his friend there, technical director Ben Voyer, to procure them.
“They’re so perfect,” Culver said. “Look, even the mauve color is in our color scheme.”
To say Culver was excited about his “find” is an understatement.
He also pointed out that the seats were made during the same era that The Ritz was built-the 1920s, so their design is authentic for the building.
On the end of each row of seats is a decorative metal piece, reflecting the art deco period, also the design of The Ritz.
“And hey, they’re comfortable, too,” Culver said, plopping down into one of the seats with a huge smile.
The seats were made available with a $4,000 grant from Talladega’s Pilgrimage Council, he said.
The brass nameplates on the back of the seats show who originally sponsored the seats for the Virginia Samford Theatre, some of the names Culver knows being associated with patrons of the arts through the years.
“Those will probably stay on them,” he said.
The seats only cost $25 each, a price almost unheard of for theatre seats, Culver said. They were refurbished by the Virginia Samford Theatre in the 1990s and appear in excellent condition.
Culver noted that the seats were occupied for years by patrons of Birmingham’s Town and Gown Theatre.
Culver even drove the 26-foot truck rented to handle the transfer, taking along Antique Talladega board member Boyd McGehee, some helpful inmates from the city jail and inmate supervisor for the Talladega Police Department, Mack Simmons.
The group was back in Talladega unloading the seats by 3 p.m. Tuesday after taking off to gather up the treasure trove about 9 a.m.
Voyer is set to come to Talladega and oversee installing the seats Dec. 28, Culver said.
“This is the story of one historic theatre helping another,” Culver said. “I keep saying it over and over, but I am just so proud for us.”
Contact Laura Nation-Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.