School auditoriums come in many shapes and sizes, and are one of the most unique types of spaces found in historic school buildings.
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The most common type of auditorium found in historic schools has a roughly 40x60' floor area including the stage. They have 15-20' high ceilings, large windows, and a gently sloping (or "raked") floor. This type of auditorium can be found in many elementary schools built from the 1920s to 1950s, and although the decorations may be different from school to school, the basic elements are the same.
While most auditoriums have sloped-floor seating areas (so the audience can see better), some auditoriums have flat floors. This makes the auditorium more accessible for people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Also, if the seats can be removed, the flat floor makes the auditorium easier to use for a wider variety of activities—imagine playing basketball or ballroom dancing on a sloped floor!
Some schools have an upper-level seating area, in the form of a balcony or mezzanine level. This feature allows more seating capacity within the same space. Other times, the balcony is used as a way to fit in other special spaces, such as entrance lobbies, coatrooms and ticketing, or projection rooms.
Many school auditoriums, particularly those built after the late-1920s, were designed to serve as community spaces when school was not in session. Some of these auditoriums offer direct access from the street via a dedicated entry vestibule, sometimes combined with a small cloakroom. Others are located near a main school entrance that can be gated off to allow public access to just the auditorium.
Vacant schools with auditoriums that can function semi-independently from the rest of the school building may offer more flexible approaches to rehabilitation, occupation, and operation.
At Ruthruff and Macomb, the primary auditorium is only the size of a typical classroom. Hubert, Washington, and Sherrill are large schools that include both large and small auditoriums.
Monnier, New, and Lynch all feature combination gym/auditoriums—but with three very different stage and seating area configurations.
2nd Floor Auditorium
Most school auditoriums are located on the main level, where they can be easily accessed by both students and the public; this also helps accommodate their taller ceilings. Stephens is the only instance of a full-size auditorium located on an upper floor.