A vision becomes a reality

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Centre Square's Cultural & Performing Arts Center is complete

By The Staff

Margaret Grundy, along with many of her Lebanon High School classmates, took a walk down memory lane Thursday during the grand opening of the Centre Square Cultural and Performing Arts Center.

Standing in what used to be her sophomore English classroom brought back a lot of memories for Grundy, a member of the Class of 1952.

"I remember sophomore English very vividly," she said, thumbing through an old yearbook in search of her class photo. "I sat right behind Gene Spragens. We were both supposed to read the 'Tale of Two Cities' and he had the comic book and we both read the comic book. I think we passed the test... Now, that's a memory..."

Grundy was extremely impressed with the renovation of her former alma mater.

"It's absolutely beautiful," she said.

Thursday's grand opening of the new cultural and performing arts center was icing on the cake for the City of Lebanon after working on the project since 2004, and spending more than $3.6 million. And, fittingly enough, there was a cake made for the occasion, which was a replica of the Centre Square complex only in icing, calories and fat grams.

But the real treat for those that attended the grand opening was the memories that were generated while they walked through the former school building.

"It's the first time I've been in this building in 54 years," Class of 1955 graduate Gerald Hillman said. "It's changed a lot."

Roger Marcum, Centre Square Committee Chairperson, can remember when the inside of the facility looked "hopeless" and many people doubted that the project would ever be fully complete.

"Some of us had a hard time believing this was ever going to happen," Marcum told a large crowd gathered in the newly renovated 350-seat auditorium Thursday afternoon. "It takes visionary leadership in any community to see a project like this move forward... It's so rewarding to see that vision become a reality."

John J. Boswell, who made a donation for the renovation of the auditorium, which is dedicated in memory of his mother, spoke highly of the Lebanon community.

"You are good people," he said.

Boswell shared some of his similarities with the former classmates of Lebanon High School who gathered to reminisce Thursday afternoon.

"I am from Lebanon, Mo., I'm a Lebanon Yellow Jacket and we had an auditorium almost identical to this when I was in high school," he said.

The Angelic Hall auditorium, along with the rest of the building, has been fully renovated and the work could have never been accomplished without a great deal of help, according to Lebanon Mayor Gary Crenshaw. Crenshaw thanked many for their tireless efforts, including Senator Dan Kelly, who helped the City of Lebanon get funding for the initial purchase of the facility, and the city workers, who work tirelessly to keep the Centre Square grounds, along with the rest of the city, in prime condition. He also thanked the Centre Square committee and past and present members of the Lebanon City Council who have taken a great deal of heat in the past for the amount of money that has been spent on the Centre Square project.

"Those men and women made a commitment to make this project a success... and it's taken years and years to do it."

  Side bar:

Anyone interested in being a part of the Centre Square project can still purchase brick pavers that will be on display in the front patio area of the facility. People can also sponsor a window. For more information, contact Lebanon City Hall at (270) 692-6272.

If anyone would like to donate their yearbooks, trophies, pictures and mementos of their years at Lebanon High School, they can drop those items off at Lebanon City Hall.