- Bill DiPaolo Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Jim Sparger, a volunteer at Jupiter Elementary School, wants to return the auditorium in the historic Jupiter school to its former luster.
“I remember there were basketball games. Political debates. They gave out vaccines. There were community functions. It was the heart of Jupiter,” said Tequesta resident Sparger, a former teacher at Jupiter Community High School.
Sparger and other volunteers are seeking to raise $2 million to restore the auditorium in the beige and tan, two-story building on Loxahatchee Road just south of Indiantown Road.
The old school, where fourth and fifth grade students attend classes, is next to the current 900-student school.
When the old Jupiter elementary school opened in 1927, it employed nine teachers and had 100 students. The architectural style is Mediterranean Revival, which was fashionable during the land boom in Florida during the 1920s.
“Once we renovate the building, we could rent it out for all kinds of community and cultural events. We could have plays, dances, all kinds of community events,” said Jupiter resident Paola Ardila-Riley, a supporter of the restoration and a data processor ot the school. Her two sons attended Jupiter Elementary School.
Stepping inside the old auditorium, vacant for about 15 years, pieces of the past are scattered inside the dark building.
Dozens of wooden chairs are lined up on the floor, facing the large stage. Stained glass windows are leaning near a doorway. Two basketball hoops are still attached to the wall. Metal archways are piled in a corner.
“Our students could do plays and dance performances. The students would blossom in those areas. We could have evening events for the community,” said Jupiter Elementary School Principal Patricia Trejo.
Selling naming rights is one of the methods supporters are considering to raise money for the restoration. That method was used by supporters of the restoration of the football field and track at Jupiter Community High School.
Palm Beach Gardens-based Velocity Community Credit Union paid $100,000 to have the stadium called Velocity Community Credit Union Stadium for five years.
“Once people in Jupiter hear about the restoration plan, I’m sure they will support it,” said Ardila-Riley.
Selling names engraved on chairs and brick pavers is being considered. State and historic grants will be sought.
“Jupiter residents have a real passion for the arts and historical preservation. I’m confident we can get support,” said Jupiter Elementary School Vice Principal Katie Chrissinger.
A steering committee plans to meet Friday to discuss ways to raise money for the restoration. For information or to contribute, call 561-741-5307.