Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Feb. 15, 2005

Non-profit organization offers tour of Old Blair Auditorium

by Christopher Consolino, Page Editor
More than 30 people attended the Old Blair Auditorium Project's tour of the Old Blair Auditorium on the morning of Monday, Feb. 14 in an attempt to draw attention to the ongoing effort to renovate the structure. According to the organization's president Busy Graham, the auditorium would further the development of performing arts programs in downtown Silver Spring.
After renovation, the Old Blair Auditorium will seat 1,200 people and feature a rising pit orchestra area. Christopher Consolino
After renovation, the Old Blair Auditorium will seat 1,200 people and feature a rising pit orchestra area.

After the construction of Blair's new location at the intersection of Colesville Road and University Boulevard, the old Blair was renovated to serve as both Silver Spring International Middle School and Sligo Creek Elementary School. The auditorium, however, has not been renovated.

The current Blair auditorium on University Boulevard seats a total of 700 persons, but Graham said that the county is in need of a larger theatre to host both school concerts and graduations along with community performances. Blair's previous location seated 1,200 persons.

Silver Spring International Principal Cynthia Best'Goring is disappointed that the auditorium still has not been renovated and hopes that the Old Blair Auditorium Project can change that. "It is a travesty that it is not being used," said Best'Goring. "I hope with this groundswell effort we can move this project forward."

There are, however, several obstacles that proponents of the renovation effort face. According to Project Board Member Lisa Reilly, the auditorium sprinkler system is not functioning properly, and there is a break in the firewall which violates the county fire code. In addition, she cited that the old structure has a rodent problem. On the upside, though, no major deposits of asbestos have been found in the old auditorium.

The renovation's cost, between $1.5 to $2 million according to Graham, is also slowing down when the old auditorium can be reopened. However, she said that the costs could be shouldered by several organizations and noted that a bond bill providing funding for the project was recently introduced into the Maryland State Legislature and has been signed by several District 20 delegates and representatives.
Playbills decorate the wings of the Old Blair Auditorium. Christopher Consolino
Playbills decorate the wings of the Old Blair Auditorium.

In the meantime, the Old Blair Auditorium Project has already begun fundraising. According to Reilly, the group has already raised $40,000 and will continue their current fundraising efforts. The group also registered as non-profit organization so that all private donations would be tax deductible.

Silver Spring International students have also joined the fight to renovate the theatre. After the tour, eighth grader Corinne Ducey presented the testimony she gave during a Board of Education meeting last November listing the multiple benefits of having a school multi-purpose room. "It's dumb that we have to go to Blair to [perform] shows and plays," said Ducey. "[The auditorium] should have been renovated when the school was renovated."

The project has recently gained the support of several old Blair alumni, including actor and comedian Ben Stein, who is now serving as an honorary member on the project's Board of Directors. Stein, however, has not yet contributed financially to the project.

For additional information about the Old Blair Auditorium renovation efforts, visit the Old Blair Auditorium Project web site.

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  • SSI Student on March 10, 2005 at 12:26 PM
    finally, its about time that they did something with that building. Thanks goodness, and I hear that they are also making a video about the open house. Awsomely cool!
  • shish kabob on April 29, 2005 at 12:02 PM
    they said the samething years ago when i was @ ssi. how they gon get millions of $'s for just an auditorium?! its probably gonna stay the same by the time my 3rd grandchild is born.
  • strategic fundraising (View Email) on November 15, 2016 at 8:33 PM
    Such a good project. Hopefully many will contribute to the strategic fundraising being done to make this a reality. We are all looking forward to a renovated auditorium. Thanks for sharing
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