News Post

USD 490 Performing Arts Center

Thursday, October 26 2017 8:28 AM

The architectural landscape of El Dorado is changing. The 1936 Art Deco influenced structure that served the community as El Dorado High School, Butler Community College, El Dorado Junior High School, and finally the El Dorado Middle School is about to be repurpposed into a dedicated performing arts center. The buildings three story classroom section has served well, but no longer met the future needs of today's education model and has sat empty since the new middle school was constructed in 2013. The District expended much effort to find alternative uses for the building in the private sector. Alas, during the plannign of Phase II of the capital improvement plan, commuinity focus groups, in conjuction with USD staff and Gravity::Works Architectre, the concept of a dedicated, district wide, performing arts center that could be available for public venues was born. Preserving the wonderful art deco, 800+ seat auditorium and injecting modern sound and lighting technology became the springboard for the buildings transformation. This led to the very selective demolition of the three story classroom portion, salvaging the decroative stone work and reintegrating into the new design. The gymnasium space, with its tight sideline design of the 30's, is attached to the stage side of the auditorium and will become back stage support and a pocket theater for smaller performances. The massive footpring of the building also permitted the creation of dedicated space for USD 490 alternative high school program.

Selective demolition is currently under way in preparation for the mass demolition of the classroom wing. The site will be transformed to accommodate parking and new accessible entrances incorporating the salvaged decorative stonework. It is facinating to see the building skeleton exposed. Seeing the exposed beams and wall cavities, conjures images of the busy worksite and the 1930's construction technology at play. Times change. I am proud that the District discovered a use, and the community embraced, the repurposing of such an icon in El Dorado's architectural landscape.

Mass demolition of east wing of 1936 building

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