Capitol Hill High School auditorium renovation reveals original design

Crews doing demolition work on the auditorium at Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City found hidden decorative plaster work dating to the school's origins in the 1920s. Plans were modified to incorporate the original decorative work in the new design.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: January 23, 2012

Renovation work on the Capitol Hill High School auditorium revealed something worth saving, much like the neighborhood itself, when the gritty and worn surface was peeled away.

Crews doing MAPS for Kids renovations to the school found ornate decorative plaster in the auditorium as they did demolition work, and the original design then was incorporated into the construction. Advocates for the area say it's the latest sign that historic Capitol Hill can still be a thriving and unique community.

“I really hope that the preservation of it and some of the other things going on over there will help restore some of the tradition,” said Ward 4 City Councilman Pete White, who attended rival Southeast High School but is a longtime Capitol Hill resident and advocate whose ward includes the school. “Some of that tradition has been lost, and the anchor for that whole neighborhood has always been Capitol Hill High School.”

Capitol Hill, long regarded as one of the city's most beautiful schools because of its design similar to grand buildings at Oklahoma's top universities, is in the midst of a $13 million renovation as part of MAPS for Kids. The auditorium's renovation cost about $500,000 after additional money from contingency funds was allocated to alter plans once the decorative work was discovered.

Seats in the upper area of the crumbling auditorium, closed off for decades, had been poached for use to replace broken ones in the lower part of the auditorium, which was in a state of general disrepair when renovations began. The low ceiling gave no sense of grandeur.

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