The stage is almost set for the opening of the new performance hall at Elyria Catholic High School.
The James E. Terrell Center for the Performing Arts will open October 23 with a “Meet Your Seat” celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony for donors.
In April 2020, the school announced the renovation of the original gymnasium.
This week, crews will complete the project, which cost more than $400,000.
“The beauty, technology and comfort of the James E. Terrell Performing Arts Center will showcase the talent and passion of our students and provide a true place of celebration and gathering for the Catholic community of Elyria,” said the President of Elyria Catholic, Annie Heidersbach. “And with comfortable seating for 571 people, the space fills a much-needed niche in Lorain County.
“The space is available for other groups to use, opening up opportunities for more partnerships with the Catholic community in Elyria.”
The show must continue
In the novel coronavirus pandemic, building supply shortages have been the biggest challenge to building the space, but that’s true for projects nationwide, Heidersbach said.
The contractors were flexible, she said, adding thanks for the help of architect Lorain Gary Fischer.
The Performing Arts Center renovation included stage expansion and flooring, a new programmable lighting console and LED stage lights, sound equipment upgrades, the added make-up and dressing room, 25 new doors and fresh paint.
The final step was to install 227 auditorium-style seats on the floor and 344 “exceptionally comfortable” bleacher seats on the balcony, Heidersbach said.
There is also new exterior signage for the performance hall and planned for the main entrance to the school.
On October 21, contractors were installing carpet in the auditorium, which still contained boxes, tools, and ladders inside.
The Heidersbach family auditorium seats, A115 and A116, were not yet labeled.
Amid the hustle and bustle of classes and construction, glancing at progress has been a pleasant escape during the school day, she said.
“I just find it joyful to come here and sit in a chair and watch everything,” Heidersbach said.
On the marquee
The center is named after James E. Terrell, an Elyria Catholic graduate from the Class of 1967, who read about the project in Elyria Catholic’s Alumni News.
Terrell recalled his high school experiences in the original gymnasium and contacted Heidersbach to provide a gift to ensure the project’s completion.
“I’m so excited to be able to support my alma mater by providing our future leaders with a beautiful facility that will help them appreciate the value of the performing arts in their lives,” said Terrell.
Terrell and his wife, Judy, traveled from Georgia in September 2020 to tour the original gymnasium before construction began.
They will return for the October 23 opening.
After high school, Terrell earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting from Miami University in Ohio.
A Georgia Certified Public Accountant, in 2004, he retired as Vice President – Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of Georgia Pacific Corp.
“We are grateful to Jim and our other executive sponsors for making the project feasible and creating these new opportunities for our students and our school,” Heidersbach said.
Meet the donors
Terrell was one of many donors to the project.
The stage will be named after the Schlather family, a family inherited from 11 graduates of Elyria Catholic High School.
Ridge Tool provided financial support for the new programmable lighting console, LED stage lights and sound equipment upgrades.
The locker room will be named after the William A. Ely Trust, and alumnus Michael Herrick and his wife, Chelsi, donated for the hall.
There are 227 seats and the school has also raised funds through two virtual galas and its golf tournament.
Headteachers hope to hold an open day for the public in the coming days.
The James E. Terrell Performing Arts Center will be open to the public to watch the school’s fall play, “The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong,” scheduled for 7 p.m., Nov. 17, 19, and 20.
“The Wizard of Oz” is the spring production.