IPF craftspeople recreate historic Auditorium doors
September 21, 2020
After 80 years of wear, the historic doors of the MSU Auditorium and Fairchild Theater require replacement.
Since its opening in 1940, the wooden doors of the multi-use facility have welcomed countless performances, concerts, and speeches. The MSU Auditorium and Fairchild Theater are significant to MSU history, requiring skilled trades people to maintain their structural integrity.
Crew members from Building Services' Carpentry, Glass and Metal Shops have been working tirelessly to complete the replacement of the exterior wooden doors. Along with recreation of the building's doors, IPF craftspeople will also repair/replace the sills, jambs, hinges and copper caps.
Steve Rondeau, IPF carpenter II, was assigned the task of recreating all 18 of the doors that adorn the east and west facades of the facilities. This was no small task, as the doors on each side are unique, with each door unit being slightly different than the rest in measurement.
“I had to take extensive measurements and create drawings for each individual door to ensure that it would be as near an exact replication as possible,” Rondeau said. “Each of these doors was initially created by a custom carpenter, not mass manufactured, and so it takes special skills to recreate their design.”
Each of the 24-glass-sectioned doors contains 192 individual wooden pieces that must be milled and fit to exact specifications. Seeing Rondeau at work is like watching a sculptor intent on creating a perfect piece of art.
“It’s not easy to find custom carpenters these days that have the skills and experience with this type of work,” Rondeau said. “It has been an enjoyable challenge to recreate the architectural elements craftspeople made years ago and learn from them in the process.”
During construction, the doors travel between Rondeau in the IPF Carpentry Shop and painter Pam Hebeler in the IPF Paint Shop.
“Once Steve has the basic frame created, I put on a first coat of stain/sealant to keep water out,” Hebeler said. “The frame then goes back for glass installation and trim work, where after it returns to me for final staining and sealing.” She added, “It’s quite a process, but we want them to last for many years.”