Renovating the Humboldt Auditorium

During a recent trip to Humboldt, we learned about an effort to preserve a landmark on the town's downtown square.

A group called the Friends of Humboldt Auditorium Foundation, Inc. is trying to renovate the city auditorium. And, they are well on their way to their goal. Lee Goodhart is very much involved with the project. "The auditorium was finished in 1941, it was a WPA project," Goodhart said. "It's built with 18" by 36" limestone blocks, all of which were brought from within 10 miles of here. The building opened in 1942, and it was open until 1999. There are very few people around here that don't remember something happening at the auditorium." Some of the big events over the years at the auditorium included wedding receptions, and people used to roller skate in the auditorium on Saturday nights.

Due to funding challenges, and the auditorium not being handicapped accessible, it was closed. But now it's being reborn. "We are a third of the way done, and I hope in the next few years, we will be all of the way done," Goodhart said. "The city of Humboldt has 27 buildings that are on the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the auditorium is one of them." Donations are coming in from locals, and those who grew up in Humboldt and have since moved to other places. Donation are still welcome.

Friends of Humboldt Auditorium Foundation, Inc. see this project as a preservation effort, but also an effort to improve the local economy. Members believe the auditorium will draw promoters of events that may not want to be in larger cities like Omaha, Lincoln or Kansas City. "We are anticipating a lot of regional events," Goodhart said. "We've had inquiries from John Deere for a parts meeting here. We've had someone interested in holding a golf show here. We think we have an economic development center right here."

The goal for the first floor is to have it completed by the beginning of 2020. "We have an entire lower floor that will come next," Goodhart said. "We want this to be a first-class kind of event center. We don't want to short-change it."