In 2012, the residents of the Napoleon Area School District voted to work with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to build a new elementary and middle school building located next to the current Napoleon High School campus. The architect’s plans included the demolition of the historic JLJ Auditorium built in 1935 with the rest of the Central Middle School complex. These historic facilities would be replaced at the new site with a gymnatorium, a shared facility between athletics and the performing arts for both junior high and high school. Although conveniently located, problems of this new facility consisted of scheduling, awkward access to seating at athletic or musical events, sound/lighting issues, and inadequate seating for larger musical productions or events.
That was when a group of individuals formed the Napoleon Civic Center foundation to save this beautiful historic building. Goals include:
- To seek, accept, and properly manage gifts to restore, renovate and ensure the continued success of the Napoleon Civic Center.
- To oversee the renovation of the auditorium and classroom structures to meet the proposed needs of the civic center.
- To encourage the use of the facility by community organizations, senior citizens, school and government entities, and local arts organizations.
- To establish ways to maintain, in perpetuity, the civic center for the benefit of the residents of Henry County.
Phase 1 (completed by June 2022)
The estimated cost of the renovation for Phase 1 of the project which includes the John L. Johnson Auditorium, the lower gym, and the adjacent rooms: $1,300,000.
Improvements to Napoleon Civic Center/John L. Johnson would include but not be limited to:
- Demolition of the east side/old high school portion (built in 1921), saving some architectural elements to be incorporated in the future.
- Add a new heating and cooling unit to the auditorium/building.
- Replacing or fixing the existing roof.
- Incorporate new sound and lighting systems for the stage area.
- In the future, replace stage curtains, side wall drapes, seating and carpeting.
- A permanent outdoor amphitheater stage with canopy built on the east side of the complex for outdoor concerts, theatrical presentations, bands and other musical groups, incorporating recovered historical architectural elements from demolition of the east side/old high school portion, and finally offer ample parking.
Additional uses for the complex:
- Loose Field and seating will be retained, if possible.
- The Snake Pit (lower gym) will be retained and used for community activities, weddings, and conferences; locker rooms?, showers and restrooms will be retained.
- The Auditorium will be fitted to be used also as a state-of-the-art wide screen movie house with surround sound.
- Acquire National Historic Register of Historic Places status.
Future Phases could include:
- The Central Elementary/west side cafeteria and kitchen could be used for receptions, banquets, and parties
- West side classrooms (built in 1953) could be used as art studios, music, and dance studios, city offices – if they are not demolished.
- Recreation department could offer summer craft classes inside and have an exterior show on the lawn.
Click here to view a Guided Tour of Phase 1 COMING SOON
You can help the Napoleon Civic Center (now the Cultural Center of Henry County) dream become a reality as it progresses towards renovation and restoration. Whatever you choose to give, everyone at the Cultural Center of Henry County is immensely grateful for your friendship and support. Friends like you are the reason the dream of preserving the John L. Johnson Auditorium is a reality. We want our future generations to be able to look back knowing Napoleon placed a high priority on community, the arts, and the aesthetic appreciation of beauty.
Donate today by visiting our Donate Now page.