Dec. 18, 2006
By Sarah Horner
After enduring years of deteriorating conditions
and months of anxious anticipation, the Denfeld High School auditorium
finally has been restored to its original glory.
Praises will be sung today for the newly refurbished
space at the Denfeld Holiday Concert. It will be the first performance
in the auditorium since the restoration.
“It looks great,” said Kerry Leider,
property and risk manager for the Duluth school district. “When
I first saw it finished I had the same impression I think most people
will have when they see it — awe. It’s just a grand
After years of water damage from a string of leaky
roofs, the 80-year-old auditorium, which once shone with ornate
plasterwork, steel chandeliers and elegant drapes, started falling
Caution tape was placed around seating sections
threatened by loose and crumbling tiles, plaster and paint were
chipping, the luster was worn off chandeliers and the curtains were
“It was almost scary to be in there because
you were afraid a piece of plaster would fall on your head,”
said Ringo Kienitz, a junior who plays violin in the Denfeld orchestra.
The $1.2 million project began in June. Scaffolding
covered the auditorium to create a false floor near the ceiling
to allow workers to reach high corners. Molds were cast to recreate
areas of deteriorating plaster, walls were painted and chandeliers
were cleaned and rewired. A new copper roof, with a life expectancy
of 70 to 100 years, also was installed, Leider said.
A few minor finishing touches, such as hanging
the new curtains and waxing the stage floor, will be done over Christmas
“My biggest concern was that we weren’t
going to be able to find craftsman around today that could restore
this type of plasterwork with the quality of work we were expecting,”
Leider said. “They did a great job. You can’t even tell
what’s been restored and what’s original.”
The audience at tonight’s concert will walk
into an auditorium that looks just at it did when it first opened
80 years ago.
“Some of the older alumni coming will be
able to remember what it used to be like for them,” Anna Lonke,
a junior and choir member, said. “The auditorium is what holds
the Denfeld community together. It’s an honor to get to be
the first group to sing in here.”
Tonight’s concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets
can be purchased at the door. An official opening ceremony will
take place sometime after Christmas.
“We had the best auditorium in Duluth,”
Kyle Akervik, a junior and viola player, said while sitting in the
new space. He said he and his classmates realized how lucky they’d
been while forced to hold assemblies in the school’s gymnasium
during the restoration.
to have it back. It’s good to be home.”