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Residents want historic auditorium saved

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The Safford Auditorium The Safford Auditorium
HAMILTON, Ill. (WGEM) -

As the Hamilton School District looks to repair its aging buildings and bring classrooms into the 21st century, that could mean tearing down a historic auditorium.

Hamilton Schools just recently had a Health Life Safety Survey done to their buildings, revealing $9.4 million needed in upgrades. One option to meet those needs is tearing down Safford Auditorium, which was built in 1927.

For former students like Ann Miller-Titus, the auditorium holds valuable memories.

"As a grade schooler, they bused us over there to practice our operettas," Miller-Titus said. "So I remember the thrill of being on stage for the first time."

Superintendent Joe Yurko said it's just one of several options the school board is considering.

"We're taking a hard look at what is the best way forward for us," Yurko said. "Number one, the environment we produce for kids and number two, what's in the best interest of our community?"

Yurko said they have class in the 90-year-old building every day, and they want to bring it into the 21st century for students and teachers.

"What we have here in some of our buildings are environments that are nearly similar to the time when the buildings were put together," Yurko added.

In 2006, a group organized to save the Safford put money into renovations and members of that group said it would all be a waste if it was torn down now.

"We certainly don't want to see it destroyed because of its historical value and it's a beautiful building," Charles Miller said.

With its age and smaller size, Yurko said it's used on rare occasions. Overall, Yurko said the improvements come down to what's best for students.

"We're looking at doing improvements that benefit our kids directly and are reflective of the world they're going to face when they move past us," Yurko said.

Right now the district has laid out three options to upgrade the buildings. Yurko said there is no timeline set to determine which option to go with.

You can see all three options in the documents below.

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