Blog Post #25: Our History: Ballot Question - ACADEMY OF MUSIC

By Debra J’Anthony, Executive Director

At the board meeting on June 8, 1929 with all members present, a discussion was had regarding the request made by Charles Rackliffe to replace the seats and re-decorate the auditorium. He further stipulated that the work needed to be done or he would end his relationship with the theater.  At the suggestion of Mayor Andre,

 “It was decided to bring the matter before the people by introducing into the ballot at the next election the question of whether the citizens approve of the continuance of the Academy and the expenditure of a sufficient sum of money to re-decorate, to put in new seats, and otherwise repair the same.”

The board members also voted to allow Mr. Rackliffe to operate the theater without paying any of the earnings to the city.

The ballot question was prepared by Frank Lyman, Mayor Andre, and Smith President Neilson and read:

“Shall the City of Northampton expend the sum of approximately $20,000 for re-decorating and re-finishing the Academy of Music, the not doing of which will force the Board of Management to consider the question of whether the property should revert to the donors?”

The question never made it to the voters. The city finance committee was against a referendum,

“feeling being in the finance committee that Northampton had assumed the obligation of preserving the Academy of Music and many of the people who might vote against the expenditure necessitated would do so because of not knowing the value of the Academy to the city and of not knowing the problems which the Board of Management face, and some of them would do so purely because they have no interest in the purpose for which the gift was made.”

 An order was presented to the Northampton Board of Alderman to have the question placed on the ballot. Once again, it was not sent to the voters. The Board of Alderman made a motion and voted to appropriate $20,000 toward the cost of redecorating and re-seating the theater.

Join the Academy of Music for its Grand Re-opening following interior renovations: new seats, repainting of the auditorium, refinishing the oak floors and more. The Grand Re-opening on October 17th will feature a premiere production, Nobody’s Girl, a screwball comedy based on real events that took place at the theater in the 1940s.