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Cupola/stage project moving forward in Waynesboro

January 16, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The cupola preserved when East Junior High School was demolished in 1999 is approximately four months from being permanently displayed at its new home between Waynesboro Area middle and high schools.

The cupola project originally included plans for an amphitheater, but those were abandoned when determined to be too extensive and expensive, according to Richard Mathias, chairman of the 13-person committee overseeing the project.

The cupola will be placed on a platform made of concrete blocks and bricks. Sealed steel girders will support the cupola, and a small room being built will house the wiring.

Six older-style lights will be on the cupola's base, and four spotlights will illuminate the one-time top of the Pa. 16 school built in 1937, Mathias said.

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A 50-foot-wide stage is planned for the front of the cupola, which will face East Second Street.

"We hope people will use that for concerts," Mathias said. "Maybe someone will get married there."

No seating is planned, he said.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Work Projects Administration spawned construction of the then-Waynesboro Senior High School across from today's Waynesboro Hospital.

The facility was converted to East Junior High School when the new high school opened in the early 1960s, according to Mathias.

Mathias, who was the principal at East Junior High School until 1982, said the building closed in the late 1980s and was razed by the hospital a decade later.

"The hospital gave the cupola to the school district," Mathias said, adding that it was moved to the middle school and remains there.

The white cupola has been completely renovated, except for the columns damaged when the structure was moved.

Their replacement will cost $7,000, which remains to be raised from the community.

The rest of the project primarily has been funded through a $75,000 grant obtained by state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, $8,000 obtained by former state Rep. Patrick E. Fleagle and donated materials and labor, Mathias said.

He estimated that 800 volunteer hours have been completed and said fair weather has expedited work.

"There was an awful lot of sentiment in the community about tearing the school down," Mathias said.

He attended school there before an 18-year stint as principal.

"I spent 22 years of my life in that building, and it became a part of me," Mathias said.

Contributions to the columns' replacement can be made through the Waynesboro Area Business Education Consortium in care of treasurer Clint Barkdoll at 9 E. Main St., Waynesboro, PA 17268.

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