Stambaugh’s steps are breaking apart and it’ll be a complicated fix

Years of salt seeping through the steps of Youngstown's Stambaugh Auditorium has created a problem

Steps at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown are breaking apart

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The grand steps leading to the main entrance of Youngstown’s Stambaugh Auditorium need to be repaired. Ninety-two years of rain, snow and salt have taken their toll but because of the way the steps were built, it won’t be an easy fix.

General Manager Matt Pagac said the 25 steps that lead people into Stambaugh Auditorium are “not horribly bad.”

“They’re not going to collapse or anything like that.”

Not anytime soon, but Stambaugh’s steps are in bad shape. They’re cracked, chipped and separating.

Up the middle where — over the years — most of the salt was applied, a $15,000 band-aid repair was made at the request of the insurance company. But fixing them the right way will not be easy.

Underneath the steps is an open space that was used as the construction dump for the building. Again, the years of salt seeping through has created a problem.

“We actually gained access to underneath of these stairs, which is this big open space,” Pagac said. “When we did that, we had an engineer come in and he discovered that 90 years’ worth of putting salt all over these stairs has soaked into the concrete and the steel structure underneath, and is actually causing the steel to rust and blow the concrete structure off of the steel, which is what will eventually cause this all to fail.”

The steps of Stambaugh have been the setting for countless group pictures. Even church services were held on the steps. Today, they’re often used for weddings.

Pagac said they’ve already spent two years figuring out how to repair them.

“We’ve spent about $50,000 to $55,000 in the preliminary planning stages of this project, doing core drillings.”

The goal is to get a construction plan, after which there will be fundraising for what could be a $3 million project. The project would also include cleaning the black soot off the façade, left over from the days of steel.

Stambaugh is on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the original limestone steps may have to remain limestone.

“We’ve done some research from some other facilities that are on the National Register that have replaced their limestone stairs with precast concrete. So those are some options that might be more cost-effective,” Pagac said.

The plan is to redo everything from Fifth Avenue to the main door — that includes the pavilion in front of the steps. There are also some serious drainage issues around the steps that are causing a side wall to bow.

Getting the steps fixed could take three to five years.


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