With the opening of new Arts Center just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to highlight the history of our Auditorium through photos and quotes!
“The arts are an important part of our Dominican heritage, and we are proud to create a space that honors that tradition.” —Sr. Carolyn McCormack, O.P., president
In October of 1954, Mother Dolorosa sent a letter to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles requesting support for the construction of a “gymnasium-auditorium” at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. Over the next three years, the Sisters raised $170,000 from parents and friends of the school to fund the project.
Construction began in April 1955 and the Auditorium was completed in November 1956. The first performance in the Auditorium was Hugh Benson’s “Nativity Miracle” to celebrate Christmas 1956.
“As the first to work the lights in the newly opened auditorium in December 1956, I have fond memories of missing school for a week as the drama teacher, Roberta Korte Reeves, and I labored to discover which handle on the dimmer board controlled which switch.” – S. Katherine Jean, O.P. ’59 (pictured at the light board in the background)
While the boarding students ate breakfast and dinner in the main building, there wasn’t time to run down from the high school to the dining room for lunch. The solution? Lunch was provided to the boarders from the tiny kitchen in the back of the Auditorium. Other extracurricular events would also make use of the kitchen for burger sales and game snacks.
The Auditorium wasn’t only used for theatre productions. During the 1960s, students learned the foxtrot, modeled the latest looks on a makeshift runway and attended Mass – all inside the Auditorium.
In 1968, Elizabeth Talbot-Martin joined the FSHA faculty as the new theatre instructor. With years of professional theatre experience, Talbot-Martin brought a level of professionalism to the FSHA stage. She introduced the annual spring production and under her direction FSHA produced plays ranging from “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Crucible” to the musicals “The King and I,” “Oklahoma” and “The Sound of Music.”
In the early ’80s, Athletic Director Betsy Sauer approached Sr. Ramona about moving the P.E. classes and sports practice into the Auditorium. “It was time for the program to move forward,” says Betsy. “The days of asphalt sports were gone. We needed regulation-sized equipment.”
“My parents (with a group of parents) also started the Booster Club at that time. Their initial goal was to pay for a three bench portable bleacher for the auditorium and portable basketball hoops. There was also no JV basketball or volleyball at that time so they raised money for coaches so we could have a JV team for the lower classmen. It was a great time of growth. The Sisters were always very supportive and the program exploded.” – Sarah Banales Villegas ’86
“The Auditorium had no locker rooms onsite, a low roof and a very shiny floor … but the din of the supporters made it spectacular. Our Tologs were excellent motivators. Later I played in much larger venues but the vibe was never as powerful as on the Hill.” – Tricia O’Mara Durham
“We had volleyball practice in there. It was high enough for regulations, but there were still a couple of beams. If a ball hit a beam, it would come down quick but we were used to it. There were bleachers on the stage and chairs up and down, and people would refer to it as our shoebox.” – Betsy Sauer, former Athletic Director and P.E. Instructor
Father Daughter Dance
While the Prom and Winter Ball were mainly held in the Lounge of the Main Building (if on campus), some of the other dances, like the popular Hawaiian-themed Father Daughter Dance found a home in the Auditorium.
Yup, even Gala took place in the Auditorium. Today, a clear tent is erected on Senior Lawn, with additional locations throughout the Main Building.
In 1989, James Bailey brought ComedySportz to FSHA—a popular extracurricular activity that continues today. The improvisational game featured “matches” between school teams with audience members judging the results and awarding points. Bailey eventually joined the faculty in 1992.
“It was two or three in the morning and we were working hard to get these sets built and painted. We were splatter painting to give the flats texture and paint got everywhere—all over the floor. Ms. Moffett started freaking out, thinking she’s going to get fired. So all of us take screwdrivers and spatulas and spend hours trying to get all the drops of splatter paint up. I’m sure we pulled up the varnish on the floor. For days we were just walking on eggshells. Mr. Sanchez was the PE teacher at the time and he loved that floor. He would polish it. I remember him looking at the floor one day and we are all like, ‘Is he going to notice there’s no varnish on the floor …’” – Shannon Morzov ’94
Though FSHA began offering ceramics in 2002, the ceramics studio didn’t actually move into the Auditorium until 2008. The ceramics studio took the place of the old kitchen, which hadn’t been of use since lunch service moved to the newly built Student Activities Center in 1998.
Beginning of Construction
In January of 2015, FSHA broke ground on the new Arts Center Remodel.
The Arts Center is scheduled to be completed in mid-March. The grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 through 30 with the Dance Concert as the inaugural performance.
Favorite Auditorium Memories
“I so vividly remember rehearsing for the fall shows and the constant thunder of the basketballs sharing the ground during practice in the background, even games sometimes — whistles, cheering, shouting — all during rehearsal. It truly was a multipurpose building with sport and art happening at the same time.” —Jennifer Ricchiazzi Richard ’92
“I remember the Big-Little Sister Slumber Party that was held when I was a freshman. I only knew a few other students at the time but the event was a ton of fun. I specifically remember everyone’s stuff placed around the perimeter of the room — sleeping bags, duffel bags and, of course, lots of food/snacks (healthy ones, I’m sure!) When it was time to unpack and unroll the bags, people, clothes and stuff was EVERYWHERE! — Maria Viola Finnegan ’82
“Summer volleyball! It was like a sauna in there, but the welcome was warmer than the temperature. My best memory in the auditorium is dancing with my dad to his favorite music at father/daughter night, “At the Hop with Pop.” A very close second is certainly watching my own daughter act and sing on that stage for the past four years. Good, good times!” — Camille Barbaro Spina ’87
What’s your favorite memory of the auditorium? Share in the comments!
Visit visionforveritas.org for more information about FSHA’s Arts Center.