Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Manhattan Group Starts Fundraiser for Plan to Give New Life to Peace Memorial Auditorium

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Manhattan Group Starts Fundraiser for Plan to Give New Life to Peace Memorial Auditorium

Article excerpt

A community-driven effort to renovate Manhattan's Peace Memorial Auditorium on the heels of a nearly three-year battle to save it from becoming office space now faces a new challenge.

Friends of Peace Memorial Auditorium would like to turn the lobby area of the auditorium on Poyntz Avenue into a large World War II memorial featuring the names of Riley County residents who died in the war and kiosks with information about each soldier and other war memorials in the county. That project, also including updates to lighting and audio equipment for the auditorium's stage, is expected to cost about $500,000, David Fiser, the group's president, said Tuesday in an interview with The Topeka Capital-Journal.

The group recently began formal fundraising for the project but already has collected nearly $180,000 in cash donations and pledges.

"What we found is once people learned about the auditorium they started giving -- even just little amounts," said Randi Dale, a longtime supporter of the auditorium who serves as event coordinator for the group.

The Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity will host a concert May 7 at the auditorium with proceeds going toward the renovation. The fraternity has been one of the auditorium's strongest allies, Dale said. The concert will serve as the first of several possible fundraising events, she said.

Friends of Peace Memorial has come a long way since summer 2013, when Dale discovered lights had been removed from the auditorium. She learned the Manhattan City Commission had voted to move forward with a $2.9 million renovation project that called for removal of existing seating in the auditorium to create two floors of office space for the parks and recreation department. The plan also proposed replacing the stage with two basketball practice courts. …

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