“My Fair Lady” 1958 in the McGinnis gym.

The cast of musical “My Fair Lady,” which was presented in spring, 1958 in the McGinnis gym.

The McGinnis gym was constructed in 1936 for use of the school district but was decommissioned in 2008 after it was deemed unsafe.

During its time of operation, many people in the community have attended events or participated in sports at the gym.

“My favorite memory is when the music teacher Harlan Boye put on the musical ‘My Fair Lady’ in March of 1958, with 16 couples participating. He taught us all dances such as waltzing, the two-step and the jitterbug. We memorized songs from the musical and sang them while we were dancing. Mr. Boye, with help of parents, obtained costumes for all of us. We did the performance two nights,” Suzy Kelly recalled.

Recently the gym has been bought by Watershed Inc. from the Buena Vista school district for the purpose of restoring it back to its original beauty.

The cost for the restoration will be close to $2 million, which will be paid for with funds from State Historical Fund grant, United State Environmental Protection Agency, CDPHE Brownfields grant and Colorado preservation tax credits.

Upon completion of the gym, Watershed will sell the property back to the school district and will be once more put into service.

“While Ginger Shields was in high school, she repainted the demon at center court in the gym. The year was either 1952 or 1953. I was communicating with her by letter at that time. She graduated and we were married in 1953. She was also a cheerleader for the sports events all 4 years of high school. I think that the four cheerleaders won the state cheerleading award on one of those years,” Bill Behrman recalled.

Behrman recalled an experience acting in a play called “Coming Around the Mountain” in which they used a shotgun with a blank shot as a prop in the play and how he had gotten the part that involved being able to shoot the shotgun on stage.

“The high school athletic banquets were held in the gym, with it all decorated with red and white banners. There were many plays performed on the stage and the acoustics were not too bad considering it was a gym,” Kelly said. “The gym was used for town events and funerals if space was needed. It was the largest facility in town.”

Renovations on the gym are expected to be finished in spring 2024.

“Historic buildings are the most visible, tangible link that our communities have with our past. Preservation is also the most environmentally friendly construction. As renowned architect Carl Elefante said, “The greenest building is one that already exists.” In this sense, preservation expresses our values – history, community, environment – that new buildings can’t quite capture,” Watershed cofounder Katy Welter said.

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