YOU CAN ALMOST HEAR the rhythmic bounce of basketball upon wood floor, hear the roar of the crowd as the ball swishes through the net and two points are added to the scoreboard.
You can almost hear the resounding applause of proud parents as performers bow and the heavy curtain sways, pulled shut by hand-over-hand action of a stage hand running thick ropes.
You can almost hear the clear diction of graduates’ names pronounced before they proceed onto the stage to receive their West Concord High School diplomas.
Echoes of the past linger inside the old West Concord School gym, built in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project. The school closed in 1991.
Today this grand gymnasium houses this southeastern Minnesota town’s community center. The space is now used for a middle school athletics program and rented out for class reunions, festive gatherings by the area’s Hispanic community and more, according to Janis Ray, director/gambling manager for the adjoining West Concord Historical Society museum.
I applaud West Concord for saving this impressive auditorium and the connected school. All too often such grand structures are demolished because of the cost to maintain them. They are worth saving for their history, memories and architectural significance.
Gymnasiums aren’t built like this any more. Imagine the hands of formerly unemployed men laboring to build this gym. How happy they must have been to earn a paycheck. Preserving this gym is a tribute to them, too, to hard work and building a sense of community.
I hope future generations will always remember that.
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling