History Blog #26: Our History: Seats and Safes - ACADEMY OF MUSIC

By Debra J’Anthony, Executive Director

The Northampton Board of Alderman voted to appropriate twenty thousand dollars to re-decorate the theater in the summer of 1930 and Smith President Neilson moved to order 700 chairs with “leather upholstery both back and seat.” They were to include “hat rails, number plates and letter plates and detachable adjustable ball bearing noiseless hinges,” as well. Bids were sent out and all came back above budget. It was voted to place new chairs in the lower level only.

The winter brought more concerning news when the safe was broken into during the evening hours. The Gazette wrote on December 29, 1930,

“Sometime after midnight Saturday night, the box office of the Academy of Music was entered and $100.25 taken from the safe. The strong box, which is of an old-fashioned make, was not damaged, the burglar evidently being able to open it without difficulty using the combination. After the money was taken, the safe was relocked.

“The loss was discovered by Joseph Beaudry, in charge of the theater advertising, who arrived at the Academy shortly before 10 o’clock yesterday morning. He immediately notified Miss Mildred Walker, the cashier, and M. F. Shaughnessy of Holyoke, the manager.”

The burglar had forced his way through a back door with “some instrument” and had damaged the frame. There were no fingerprints to be found, just a single pair of footprints, “which led from Main Street park to the door at the rear of the Academy.”

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 our premiere production, Nobody’s Girl, a screwball comedy based on real events that took place at the theater in the 1940s. Both Mildred E. Walker and Frank Shaughnessy will be featured characters in this new comedy, written by Harley Erdman and directed by Sheila Siragusa.