For the Neighborhood and Community Impact of the Garner High School Auditorium, 742 West Garner Road, Garner
The period from World War I through the 1920s was one of great progress for the public schools of North Carolina. Established in 1923, Garner High School is one of few surviving examples of the substantial brick school buildings built during this period of progress when the state consolidated large numbers of one- and two-room rural school houses into a central school district served by school buses. Garner High School served to educate both elementary and high school students from Garner and the nearby rural communities of Ebenezer, Cade Springs, Panther Branch, and Auburn.
Situated on a hill overlooking Garner Road, the first section of the two-story main building was completed in 1923 at a cost of more than $30,000. This original block is flanked by symmetrical wings with stepped parapet pavilions that were added, along with an auditorium to the rear, around 1927. School buildings continued to expand through the 1940s, and the last senior class graduated from the school in 1956.
In 1988, the Garner High School building was slated for demolition. A concerned group of citizens pushed for the building’s preservation, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the Downtown Garner National Register Historic District. In 1990, the Town of Garner purchased the school from the Wake County School System. The School has since undergone two phases of rehabilitation. The first phase was the conversion of the facility into forty-five senior apartments, known as “Olde School Commons,” completed in 1998. The second phase of rehabilitation includes the adaptive use of the old auditorium as a community arts facility managed by the Town of Garner Parks and Recreation Department, which was completed in 2006.
At a cost of $2.4 million, the rehabilitation of the Garner High School Auditorium expands the stage area, stage lighting, and sound control, and creates a fly space. The project preserves and improves the audience seating area by restoring the original hardwood floors, preserving existing windows, and replacing the old wooden seats with larger, upholstered new seating. The backstage area was also expanded to include accessibility for disabled persons, dressing rooms, restrooms, a green room, storage facilities, and loading docks.
The rehabilitation of the Garner High School Auditorium provides the Town of Garner and its citizens with a full-service facility to be used by a more diverse community groups and organizations. The rehabilitation of the Garner High School Auditorium has enhanced the value of the structure to the community and has allowed it to become a significant source of cultural and recreational activities for all age groups.
The Board of Directors of Capital Area Preservation is pleased to present a 2007 Anthemion Award to the Town of Garner, Ross/Deckard Architects, PA, and Daniels and Daniels Construction for the Neighborhood and Community Impact of the Garner High School Auditorium.