SPHS Archives: Auditorium Renovations


Paloma Welch

“The National Registry of Historic Places protects the wooden seating as a crucial historical gem of the school.”

The St. Petersburg High School building has undergone many renovations since its founding in 1926. From the updated cafeteria to the creation of the gymnasium, our school is a beautiful blend of modern construction and historical architecture. The auditorium is among this array of historic buildings and rooms that make up the school. This beloved theater provides a performance stage for our thespians and a ceremonial space for students. 

While the auditorium is part of the oldest building in the school, it has been through many remodelings through the years. In 2021, for example, the roof was being updated and accidentally caught fire. This caused damage to the theater when the sprinklers turned on, and water ran up to the stage. Besides the theater’s carpeting, the water damage wasn’t extreme, and the repairs were not extensive.

The auditorium also underwent many updates during the recent $45 million school-wide renovation. For example, sound dampeners were put on the walls, handicap-accessible seating was added, ceiling tiles in the bathrooms and dressing rooms were replaced, house lighting was redone, and new sound and light cabinets were built. The wooden seating was removed and then reinstated to complete these updates.

Throughout all of these changes to the auditorium, there are many things that the school is unable to renovate. In 1984, St. Petersburg High School was added to the National Registry of Historic Places for being the first million-dollar high school. Due to this listing, the auditorium chairs cannot be replaced. The National Registry of Historic Places protects the wooden seating as a crucial historical gem of the school. The purpose of the National Registry is to preserve the history of America’s oldest buildings. 

Another necessary update for the auditorium originated from a recent Pinellas County rule that all school auditoriums must update their rigging. These changes were supposed to be completed by the end of summer break; however, the completion date was extended to September 30th and then January 17th. The construction workers reported discrepancies in their work when they returned from break, claiming that these inconsistencies were the cause of the furthered finishing date. The bolts they put into the wall were unscrewed when they returned. The linear measurement lines they had drawn were suddenly curved. According to the construction workers, the culprits of these mysterious activities and the extended completion date are ghosts.

Unfortunately, these newest updates to the auditorium have postponed Goldfever, one of St. Pete High’s most famous traditional events. Goldfever brings together service clubs and other students to compete in a themed dance competition. This dance battle is held in the auditorium annually because of the large group of attendees it attracts. Goldfever has now been pushed back from January 27th to March 3rd. When Ms. B returned from winter break, she was told the theater would not be done in time and “there was nothing Ms. Lebo or [herself] could do.” Because there was nowhere else to have Goldfever, “the answer was to postpone [it].”

The postponement of Goldfever is a bummer. However, it does give the competitors more time to prepare. In the words of the Interact choreographer, Peyton McClung, “it’s been pretty helpful because [they] can focus on perfecting [their] routines; however, this means that the performances are going to have to be all the more better.” One of the Key Club Vice President, Han Nguyen, has similar sentiments, claiming that “as somebody who is participating in five different dances for Key, [he is] grateful that the date has been pushed back to March 3rd as it will allow for more time for practice.” Despite his appreciation for the extra rehearsals, he also believes the changed date “could present a scheduling conflict for certain individuals who have already scheduled their time around the previous date.”

Despite these difficulties, Goldfever will not be cancelled. Ms. B promises to do whatever she can to make Goldfever happen. Alongside Ms. Lebo, the administration and student body immensely enjoy this honored tradition and are determined to make this performance happen. The show must go on!