The Oil City Library’s “secret place,” a former auditorium/theater upstairs that was converted to an attic-type storage area decades ago, will have a second public showing and sale this month.
“There is a lot of cool stuff up there and we need to clear it out and start the restoration project,” said Sarah Margherio, chair of the library’s theater restoration committee.
The sale will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, upstairs in the Oil City Library. The debut sale and tour, held July 25 during the Oil Heritage Festival, drew hundreds of patrons to the former auditorium/theater area.
Furniture pieces that will be marked for upcoming sale include desks, tables, chairs and book cases.
The sale inventory will also include city directories, high school yearbooks and related materials. Much of the area’s contents were culled earlier, and those materials relevant to the library as well as to the Oil City Heritage Society that maintains a room upstairs were kept.
“Still, there is a lot of historic memorabilia upstairs and they are extras,” said Margherio. “Lots of cool stuff. Items that are sold must be moved out the day of the sale or shortly after. We can’t start this project until the area is empty.”
All donations in cash or local checks will be designated for the theater restoration effort. Nick Hess, a committee member and antique dealer, will oversee the sale.
Work is continuing
The theater restoration committee was organized nearly two years ago in an effort to restore the upstairs area that had been used for library storage.
In 1955, Oil City Council studied whether the “run-down auditorium” could be renovated. Cost estimates for that work as well as a renovation of the library’s main floor were higher than anticipated.
Council opted to invest funds in the first floor renovations and designated much of the theater and auditorium area as “an attic” to be used for storage.
The work was completed in 1959, the same year the name was changed to Oil City Library.
The upstairs space includes a curved wood stage, dressing rooms, large stained glass windows, bathrooms and an expansive floor space. The restoration committee has reviewed preliminary architectural plans and is preparing requests for bids to determine costs for the work.
“Some preliminary architectural drawings have been done,” said Margherio. “We’d like to get moving on this but first, we need to get all those things out of there. So come visit the attic, even if you came the first time, and make an offer. This restoration effort is all aimed at preserving a big part of the community’s history.”