OGDEN — After undergoing more than $75 million in renovations, Ogden High School is new again. To celebrate the achievement, the community is invited to an open house.
Wednesday night, people can take self-guided tours of the high school at 2828 Harrison Blvd. from 4 to 6 p.m.
The unique art-deco look made it stand out and still does. The school was the nation’s first $1 million high school. It's been restored back to what it may have looked like when it was built in 1936.
"It's an icon,” said Alan Hall, who graduated from the school in 1963 and is the co-chairman of the Restore Ogden High School campaign. “When I graduated from Ogden High School, it was beautiful then. But now to see it restored in all its glory and beauty, it's just breathtaking."
The goal was to restore and preserve historical elements of the school. The work focused on the auditorium with its intricately carved and painted art-deco designs. The project included silver and gold leafing, plus matching 25 different colors, all done by hand. The old-time doors and windows were also on the restoration list.
Constructing a new school building for Ogden High students would cost up to $55 million. Renovating the historical building was estimated up to $70 million. Voters approved a bond, and donors had to make up the $9 million difference.
"The donors stepped forward because they wanted to see Ogden High saved and to make it like it is today,” Hall said. “So it is very important to them to see this happen, and they were willing to give their money during an economic downturn."
The Ogden High Tiger is now back in place, and many of the construction zones that were closed off to students will soon reopen — including the new lunch room built onto an existing outside wall.
"So when you walk through this building, you see all this magnificent artwork, and so, it's not really just a high school, brick and mortar, this has a spirit to it,” he said.
Like many other alumni who donated to the cause, Hall said this building still holds many memories.
"As a matter of fact, this is where all of us started to figure out who we are, and I love being in these halls and just walking through here,” Hall said. “I have great memories of all my fellow classmates — all the good times we had here."
But beyond the nostalgia for past students, he's hopeful Ogden High School will remain an important piece of history for the whole state of Utah.
"It stands up here on a hill. You can see it lit up at night from all over the valley,” he said. "This building is a treasure to the city of Ogden."
The doors will open up Wednesday for self-guided tours followed by a special program at 6 p.m. hosted by Lt. Gov. Greg Bell.
“I look at it as maybe the finest high school, most beautiful building in the whole United States,” Hall said. “It’s just a treasure for us.”
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company