Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
The dictionary defines “auditorium” as a part of a theater, concert hall or other public building. A search of early Millinocket newspapers reveals that many events took place in the “auditorium” of various churches. More recently mention of “auditorium” locally refers to the performance space at Stearns High School.
In 1921, the Millinocket High School and Common School burned to the ground. Plans were already underway at the time for the construction of Stearns High School as enrollment was rapidly increasing. Plans for the new school contained details for an auditorium and gymnasium. A news article of that time indicated that the stage would be 60 feet by 35 feet and have a capacity for 1000 people. The same article has information that the proposed gymnasium would be part of the same addition and have an office for the “physical director,” a room for first-aid, a ticket office and a balcony to seat 400. However, these two spaces were not added until several years after the school itself was completed and opened in1923.
The 1942 town report describes the SHS auditorium project as “the greatest single project of the year.” It states, “This work was greatly hampered by shortage of material, labor and strikes, all a part of, or a result of, world conditions. The building was intended to be finished by August 20. It was not completed until about November 1. Long before its completion, the war made itself felt in this work. Many of the items which had gone into the work were then impossible of procurement. Had the building started a few months later than it did, it would never have been completed. We now have a beautiful auditorium, thoroughly equipped stage, motion picture booth and machine equipped for sound, four classrooms which can be separated from the auditorium for classrooms or opened as a part of the auditorium for different functions.”
The Stearns HS auditorium would become the setting for a great many plays, concerts and other activities for both the school and the community until the building ceased being a school in the June of 1998. Many memories!
The museum has photos, event programs and other memorabilia from this iconic town building and we will accept more! Also at the museum is the book Millinocket Schoolhouses… A Look Back in Time! Compiled by MHS members from information scoured from town reports, news articles and other reference sources at the museum. In addition, the book has many photos throughout the book plus a photo album at the back with pictures of students and activities through the years! The book is $20 at the museum or $20 plus $5 SH by mail for each copy at the address on the contact page.