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Possible changes coming to historic Ionia Theatre

IONIA, Mich. — The Ionia Theatre is facing a dilemma of comfort versus history.

Managers are in the process of deciding to do with a major feature that has been there since the 1930s: the seats.

The seats have seen their fair share of wear and tear, which is leading to the debate of how to handle fixing the issues that have been created by the passage of time.

"We know that we need to do something coming up," said Gary Ferguson, Ionia Theatre executive director.

Ferguson says he has done his best to preserve the history of the building, but there's only so much he can do.

"Of course, things have been modernized as we've gone along, and sometimes you don't have a choice," Ferguson said.

Some of those modern upgrades include things like a popcorn and frozen beverage machine.

Up next could be the chairs, about a dozen of which are taped off, unable to be used.

"I think some people view our theatre as very historic, and it is to a degree," Ferguson said. "They don't want to see those seats leave, and I understand that."

Eliza Bridinger is one of the people who wants those seats to stay.

"I really like vintage things, so I like the vintage aesthetic," she says.

When the possibility was first mentioned on Facebook, it gained comments from people on both sides.

"We want to please everyone, but sometimes you can't," Ferguson said.

Nothing has been decided yet, so the chairs will be staying for now. Ferguson says any replacement plans could be as far as five years down the line.

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