Cooler days are ahead for the Huntington High School auditorium. A capital project to install air conditioning in the facility was recently completed. The system is now fully operational.
The initiative took several years to complete from its conception, due mainly to the lengthy process required to gain the State Education Department’s approval for the work.
A pair of 7,000 lb. Carrier air conditioning units were hoisted onto the auditorium’s roof by a crane. The structure had previously been reinforced to handle the extra weight. The project required new electric service and extensive exterior ductwork.
Kathleen Acker, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance and management services collaborated with lead operations supervisor George Austin to complete the project under budget.
Huntington’s auditorium features about 1,850 seats and an enormous stage. The facility was constructed during parts of 1957 and 1958. A lengthy strike by steelworkers delayed the opening of the new high school building until November 1958.
During the process to gain public approval for the erection of a new high school building, the community was given a choice of constructing either a small auditorium similar to the one that existed at the old high school building on Main Street (now used as Huntington Town Hall) or one with about 1,400 ground level seats and another 450 located in a sweeping balcony. Residents were told a large facility could be used for community events.
The auditorium has never had permanent air conditioning during its 60 years of service. In recent years, the district contracted for mobile units to be brought onto the campus to cool the facility for events during late June.
Inclement weather forced this year’s high school commencement to be moved indoors to the auditorium. J. Taylor Finley Middle School’s moving up exercises were held in the facility and every school in the district held their spring concerts there, too. The space has been known to get quite hot during June and at times the temperature has made the crowd quite uncomfortable.
During recent years the district has replaced all the ground level auditorium seats, painted the ceiling, restored the woodwork throughout the space, replace flooring and the stage curtain, improved lighting and installed a new sound system.
“We are thrilled to have added the final component in terms of making the Huntington High School auditorium a world-class multipurpose facility that will be enjoyed comfortably by students, staff and community members at all times of year,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “I’d like to thank our buildings and grounds department staff for their diligence in making sure the installation and electrical upgrades were completed this summer with fidelity and well in advance of school opening.”
District officials are currently reviewing the facility usage fee schedule adopted by the Huntington School Board several years ago. About 130 organizations are approved to use district facilities.