Whitehall-Yearling High School alumni, city residents and history buffs alike have the opportunity to own some of the last vestiges of the original Whitehall-Yearling High School.
Chairs from the school's six-decade-old auditorium are up for sale to help finance a $120,000 upgrade this summer that will include new seats, carpet, lighting and audio-visual system.
An almost completely rebuilt Whitehall-Yearling High School opened in 2013.
But one original section that included the school's auditorium remained. That area in 2015 was named the Walter Armes Learning Center in honor of the man who retired last year after a career in public education that began in 1960.
The original Whitehall-Yearling High School opened in 1958 at 675 S. Yearling Road.
This summer, the 743 upholstered, wooden-backed chairs on the ground floor of the auditorium will be replaced, Superintendent Brian Hamler said.
The old chairs can be purchased for $50 each.
The balcony of the auditorium, with several hundred more seats, will not be renovated, Hamler said, because it is seldom used.
The 1,100-seat auditorium is the third-largest in central Ohio, Hamler said, outsized only by the Ohio Theatre and Palace Theatre in downtown Columbus.
Only eight seats had been sold through May 23, said Ty Debevoise, director of communications and marketing for Whitehall schools.
Removal of the seats began May 29.
Those who purchased seats can pick them up June 2 -- the same day the new chairs are scheduled to be delivered, Hamler said.
Installation is expected to be complete by July 4, he said.
"After the completion of the seats, the auditorium will receive a sound booth to protect new sound equipment," which was donated by the SEMM Foundation and WSAX 98.5-FM, Hamler said. Other planned upgrades include new carpet and lighting.
In addition to the sale of original seats, the district has launched a campaign dubbed This Seat is Taken.
For $100, a patron can "purchase" a new seat on which a donor tag will be permanently installed bearing the name of an individual, family or organization, Hamler said.
More than 200 donor tags had been sold through May 23, Hamler said.
In addition to proceeds from the sale of seats and donor tags, the Whitehall Education Foundation will donate proceeds from a July 9 golf scramble at Jefferson Country Club in Blacklick toward the renovation.
So far, more than $60,000 has been raised, including proceeds from last year's golf scramble, Hamler said.
The district in February approved a cash advance to allow work to occur this summer, but fundraising efforts are expected to repay the advance, school board member Leo Knoblauch said.
"We are thankful to have such an active education foundation and appreciate their support of the renovation of the auditorium," Hamler said.
A new auditorium was not included when construction began in 2012 on the new Whitehall-Yearling High School because the cost was too high, Hamler said, and did not fit well into the scope of the bond issue that was necessary to obtain a grant from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission that allowed for the rebuilding of all five Whitehall schools.
For more information about the foundation's golf scramble or This Seat is Taken, or to purchase a seat from the auditorium, call Debevoise at 614-417-5003 or visit tinyurl.com/whitehallseats.