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UHS Auditorium

Ninety-six years ago this November Urbana High School opened the doors to a grand new high school. Envisioned by renowned local architect Joseph Royer, a shining feature of this new building was the 400-seat auditorium (see Stephen Larson’s Urbana High School Pictorial History at his web site).


Although our auditorium has outlasted its contemporary, the Titanic (launched just a year before the cornerstone of UHS was installed), it has dodged a few icebergs of its own in recent years, as I pointed out in my retirement remarks this past June:

Having a ceiling fall in six days before the spring musical was just one of the many memories I have of that space. All those plays and musicals, concerts, speakers, the smell of drying paint hastily applied as we opened the house, the scenery precariously balanced, built just well enough to survive the run. I’ve had the privilege of watching shy freshmen grow up to young adults ready for any challenge under the lights and responsibilities of UHS Drama. I’ve sat in the balcony and wiped many a surreptitious tear when the show marvelously came together into something beyond any of our hopes. Much as I like stage superstitions, I do not buy the popular belief that the auditorium is haunted, but there is hardly room for a lost spirit. That space is packed with the joys and reliefs of opening nights, the pride of accomplishments, the excitement of young audiences and long-time supporters alike. When we breathed that stage dust, we also took in nine decades of storytelling, dreams for the future, and friendships rooted in shared experience. I look forward to seeing the one hundredth year celebrated in a renovated space awaiting future spirits.

This renovation is an exciting opportunity to chart a new course through the 21st century. Many people attending my drama retirement reunion donated money toward the improvements envisioned for this space, and I hope you’ll join me in adding your contribution toward this project. There will be much to share and celebrate on the 100th anniversary of our stage.

Greg Chew
UHS Drama 1975-2010

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