Get a look inside on Sunday, Sept. 16
When the newest El Dorado Middle School was completed in January of 2014, the fate of the 1936 Art Deco building at 500 W. Central was uncertain.
The building had served the community first as the El Dorado High School, then Butler Community College, next the El Dorado Junior High, and finally the El Dorado Middle School.
The school district was seeking a long term solution for the three story building on three acres. Remodeling/renovation costs to maintain the facility for district and community use were discussed, along with a purchase proposal from a development company specializing in capturing housing and tax credits to repurpose historic buildings into housing developments.
A $36 million bond issue was approved by the USD 402 Board of Education and it went to the voters in May 2016 and was approved. The bond issue included using some of the money to convert the former middle school into a District Performing Arts Center.
District staff worked closely with Gravity::Works Architecture in development of the district wide performing arts center. The 800 plus seat auditorium has been updated with modern sound and lighting technology.
Parts of the old building were carefully demolished, salvaging the decorative stone work and masterfully reintegrated into the new design. The gymnasium has been converted into a pocket theater and backstage support for the main auditorium and the old locker rooms are dressing rooms.
The public will have the opportunity to view the beautifully restored facility and witness the rededication at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.