LA GRANDE — McKenzie and Schwarz theatres abruptly went dark at Eastern Oregon University in mid-March. The theaters at the La Grande campus closed like other schools in Oregon due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The curtains of the theaters will someday rise again, and when they do, audiences will applaud outstanding student performances and what will have almost disappeared — obstacles for people who have mobility issues.

McKenzie and Schwarz theatres soon will be much easier for those with infirmities to move about in thanks to major renovation work set to start July 13.

The state-funded work will be part of a $5.5 million remodeling of Loso Hall, which houses McKenzie and Schwarz theatres. Upgrading of Loso Hall’s heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems also are part of this renovation. The renovation will be among the most extensive work Loso Hall has received since it opened in 1990.

The work at McKenzie Theatre include the installation of a lift on the outside of its north-central exterior. The lift will carry people with mobility issues to the top of the first tier of McKenzie Theatre’s seating, where handicapped accessible seating will be available, according to Tim Seydel, EOU’s vice president for university advancement.

Another McKenzie addition will be bridges leading to the stage at the two first-floor side entrances. The bridges will make it easier for people with mobility issues to get to the stage.

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