ASHLAND — When Julie Mauséy was in high school in the 1990s, the old gymnasium between Southern Boone Middle and High schools was the only place in town to stage a theater production.
For 60 years, the building served Ashland students as a gym, cafeteria, theater and classroom. Now, it is boarded up and filled with mold, puddles of water and chunks of plaster from a fallen ceiling.
There has even been talk among Ashland school officials that the building is beyond repair and demolition is the cheapest option. But for students such as Mauséy, the gymnasium is a reservoir of fond memories.
Mauséy remembers the theater in the gym as a setting for plays, musicals and choir concerts. Those experiences inspired her to pursue a career in theater, and now she sells theatrical lighting.
“My love of theater came from working in that space and the teachers at Southern Boone County,” Mauséy said.
Ashland resident Scott Rice remembers Glenn Dothege, the high school gym teacher when Rice was a student in the late 1980s.
“Every time I heard the name ‘Scooter’ I knew who he was talking about," Rice said. "He was the only one who called me that.”
Rice's favorite memory is throwing a parachute up in the air and running underneath it, but there were also milestones.
“I got my first kiss in the gym, but I don’t remember who it was with. That was 30 years ago,” Rice said.
The building became neglected when the district began to focus on other projects, said LaVerne Black, former president of the Ashland Historical Society.
“I think it wasn’t up to code and wasn’t handicap accessible, so they got busy with new buildings and really just kind of let it go,” she said.
Black's grandfather was on the Ashland School Board in 1939, and she remembers going to the site as a child during its construction and seeing the foundation being built.
She said she also spent a lot of time in the gym watching basketball games.
“I was a cheerleader, and I remember leading cheers on the floor for the basketball teams,” Black said.
Last year, the Ashland Historical Society visited the old school building. Even the curtains on the stage looked the same, Black said.
“I just remember all the things that went on in that gym,” she said. “There’s a lot of good memories.”
Supervising editors are Jeanne Abbott and Judd Slivka.