Old Gym getting major makeover

The Old Gym Playhouse is sporting a new paint job and workers are replacing the drywall and floor.

The Old Gym Playhouse is sporting a new paint job and workers are replacing the drywall and floor.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

There are unusual noises and activity at the old Gym Playhouse, but this is not the ghost story that has thrilled Carson Valley middle-schoolers for decades.

A few old-timers have stopped by the Old Gym to check on its renovation underway since the beginning of July, according to workers installing new drywall on the ceiling.

“The interior and roof work was an insurance claim from flooding several years ago when we got a bunch of heavy rain,” Douglas County School Superintendent Keith Lewis said on Friday. “That project includes a new floor as well.” 

The gym’s roof caved in, damaging the floor and rendering it unusable. Lewis credited Director of Facilities Phil Demus for getting the work done.

The 87-year-old building received a new coat of paint, which was added to the district’s annual school maintenance schedule.

“We prioritized this project as we wanted to improve its curb appeal in the middle of town,” Lewis said.

Main Street Gardnerville Director Jen Nalder said she was thrilled with the work.

“Big kudos to Douglas County School District for a historic preservation project,” she said.

According to The Record-Courier, ground was broken for the gym on March 26, 1936, by contractor H.L. Dressler.

“Building operations will be under supervision of an inspector representing the federal government since it is a WPA project,” Publisher Bert Selkirk reported.

Located next door to Douglas County High School, which is now the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center, the gym was built for $28,172. A portion was paid by $15,000 raised in a special bond election. A $12,372 federal grant, and $800 raised through donations made up the rest.

The gym was dedicated Sept. 19, 1936, at the Douglas County Fair, featuring an address from Sen. Pat McCarran.

Seventy-one years later, R-C staffers Scott Neuffer and Shannon Litz, both Carson Valley Middle School alum, took a tour of the gym’s basement for a Halloween story, finding the old building every bit as eerie as advertised.

Central Sierra Construction of Minden is the general contractor on the current $250,000 project.

On Saturday, Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center held its back-to-school tour, following in the footsteps of generations of Douglas Tigers from when it opened to the late 1950s when it was repurposed as the Carson Valley Middle School.

School starts Aug. 21 in Douglas County.


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