Bob Hope Auditorium getting makeover

By Scott Halasz
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XENIA — The Bob Hope Auditorium inside Xenia High School will look a lot different when students return to the building this fall.

The four-decades-old multi-purpose room is receiving quite the makeover this summer that will modernize the space and make it much more usable. When it’s unveiled in the late fall, it will include new stage and house lighting, stage curtains, sound, projection system, seating for 710, and flooring throughout.

“The current auditorium lacks the infrastructure for productions, and the renovation will give our students a much-needed modern and usable theater and meeting space,” Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton said in a release. “Our student productions are an important part of our school life and community, yet this is the first time the auditorium has undergone a renovation of this scale in its 43-year history.”

The renovation is estimated to cost $600,000 and is being funded from permanent improvement funds.

“Xenia has extraordinarily talented young people, and we are thrilled to be renovating and updating the equipment in the Bob Hope (Auditorium) so that our young performers can truly shine,” said Board President Jennifer Marietta.

The auditorium was built along with the rest of the current high school after the 1974 tornado destroyed the previous high school building. According to Gazette archives, Hope — a world-renowned comedian and entertainer — headlined a benefit show at University of Dayton Arena Dec. 2, 1974 and raised more than $100,000, of which around $62,000 went to the schools.

In recognition of Hope’s effort, the school board approved naming the auditorium after him in September 1977. The high school and auditorium’s dedication took place Nov. 13. The school board tried to bring Hope back to Xenia for the opening, but his schedule would not allow it, according to archives.

“For those who remember when it was built, the Xenia High School and its Bob Hope Auditorium represent the strength of spirit that allowed our community to rebuild and grow stronger in the aftermath of that disaster,” Lofton said. “Continuing to preserve this past while still making our buildings functional for coming generations of students is one of the goals underpinning our long-term facilities plan.”