Historic Darby Auditorium tour and history talk stars its hand-painted “Queen of Sheba” stage curtain
Historic Darby Auditorium tour and history talk stars
its hand-painted “Queen of Sheba” stage curtain
Thousands of users of Facebook participate in the group “If You Ever Lived in Fort Smith, Ark.” where they share historic images and stories of local interest. Hundreds have been engaged by one photo of the Darby Junior High School auditorium, by photographer Mike Holloway.
It is the auditorium’s stage curtain, which depicts “The Queen of Sheba’s Visit to King Solomon.” Because of that interest, Darby Junior High will open the auditorium for an open house from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 15.
Holloway and researcher Joe Wasson will host, showing more photos and history of the school itself, built as Fort Smith High School. Alumni are invited to reacquaint themselves with one of the grandest halls of its day. At 1,500 seats, it was used also for civic and theatrical events.
Well-maintained in close to its original appearance, it now has modern climate control and is used regularly for school concerts and assemblies.
Others can see for the first time the grandeur of the 103-year-old building and may tour the original gymnasium, as well.
The elaborate stage curtain was hand-painted in France under the auspices of the Kansas City Scenic Company and retains vibrant colors. On this stage have appeared artists as diverse as Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, jazz great Stan Kenton, comedian Brother Dave Gardner, the A.C. Carter Family, radio host Paul Harvey and current television producer/writer Brad Neely.
More of that history will be presented at the open house. Those willing to show their own photos or artifacts are encouraged.
The auditorium is accessible by elevator or stairs. Students will help to direct visitors. Free, but donations to the Darby PTA are welcomed.
1-3 p.m. Oct. 15, Darby Junior High School, 616 North 14th Street, Fort Smith.
This article appears in the October 2016 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine.