The Donald R.Wright Auditorium was the first restoration project of the Pasadena Public Library Foundation and was dedicated on May 9, 1987.
The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation presented the Foundation with a generous grant for this project as a lasting memorial to Donald R.Wright, Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court from 1970 to 1977. Chief Justice Wright, a native and life-long Pasadena resident, served on the Parsons Foundation Board until his death in 1985. A plaque near the stage honors Chief Justice Wright.
The Auditorium seats were original to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (built in 1932 as the final structure in the Civic Center plan) . Early in the restoration planning, these seats were found in storage and were reupholstered in the burnt orange color originally planned by Hunt for the Library Auditorium. The end panels, featuring the City logo of the Crown and Key, were carefully restored to their original condition. The curved wire frame under each seat is a hat rack, a 1932 necessity!
There are 142 fixed seats. Another 35 seats upholstered in the same fabric can also be set up.
The color scheme of the seats was used as the inspiration for the custom designed one hundred percent wool carpeting which was made in Northern Ireland. This carpeting is used in the Children's Room, the Reference and Humanities Wings, and the Centennial Room.
Improved stage lighting, staggered seating to improve sight-lines to the stage, a stage drape and a special piano storage area make the stage better for both performers and the audience.
Two Steinway grand pianos are in the special storage area behind the stage and are owned by the Tuesday Musicale. They may be rented from the Tuesday Musicale.
As part of the restoration, the Auditorium was equipped with advanced lighting, sound, and audio-visual systems. In 1995, the Library was one of two public libraries in California to receive a PacBell "Education First" grant which funded the installation of video teleconferencing equipment.
Even the restrooms were improved. An old door to the existing Women's restroom which had been hidden behind shelves was reopened. (A new Men's room had been built in 1983 off the west side of the entry foyer.) A combination restroom/dressing room for performers was constructed backstage.
The Wright Auditorium is one of the most heavily used public meeting rooms in the City, averaging over 450 bookings each year. A variety of events are held here such as the Library's captioned film program, additional Children's programming, recitals and concerts, lectures by local scholars, public hearings by City Commissions, etc. The Auditorium is available free to non-profit groups who do not restrict or charge for attendance, and for a fee to profit-making or limited attendance groups. Seventy percent of the Auditorium use is by non-profit groups.
The following paintings are in the Auditorium (starting on the south wall with the Colorado Street Bridge painting and moving clockwise):