An important part of Decorah school history is being restored to its original spirit.

At Monday's meeting of the Decorah School Board, Constance Johnson, an interior designer who recently moved to Decorah, addressed the Board about historic elements that are being restored to the Carrie Lee auditorium.

The auditorium, built in 1922, originally employed an Art Deco style.

"The Art Deco theme has been lost over the decades and now it's coming back to life," said Board Vice President Melanie Tietz.

Johnson, a friend of Carrie Lee Principal Cheryl Miller, has volunteered to donate her time to the project.

"I think you have a little gem," said Johnson of the auditorium.

Johnson said she has been working on the "cues" in the building and trying to use what is original.

In addition to embellishing the space with period reproduction wallpapers in jewel tones, Johnson has suggested adding decorative tiles and some gilding.

She said there will be "pilasters"(long, tall columns) constructed out of plywood, and the space's original "wedding cake globe" lights will be maintained.

"You would be really surprised at how many things have been done inexpensively. We're not incurring huge costs," said Superintendent Mike Haluska.

Johnson said she and High School Art Instructor Liz Lorentzen have been "researching the annals" to find photos of what the auditorium used to look like.

"A lot of people who went to school there are going to be enthralled when they see what's going on," said Board President Ron Fadness. (Historically, Carrie Lee has served as high school and junior high school and is now an elementary school.)

The cost

The Decorah Community School District Foundation is currently selling seats at a cost of $250 to help finance the project, which is estimated at around $250,000.

Lead donors have already committed more than $50,000 toward the project. If the Foundation sells all 400 seats, it will raise another $100,000 to help cover a large portion of the renovation cost.

The project is expected to be finished in time for the spring concert season.

Anyone wishing to make a tax-

deductible contribution to the auditorium should contact Ben Grimstad at 382-9661 or Rich Amundson at 382-2542.