DAVID F. ASHTON  - The famed statue of Benjamin Franklin, after whom Franklin High is named, oversees the construction of the schools new sports field and Gym/Bio-Med Building.Both inside and outside the historic Franklin High School buildings on S.E. Woodward Street, major changes are visible as the major renovation project continues.

“Some parts of the ‘heart of the project’, the original historic 1915 building, continue to be selectively removed, as necessary,” pointed out Portland Public Schools Bond Communications Manager David Mayne.

As he took THE BEE on a tour of that building in mid-April, Mayne observed that one of the key landmarks of that building, the staircase at the main entry, has been demolished, to make way for a new “Grand Entry and Staircase” that will take its place.

As we strolled through, we saw that many of the new load-bearing walls that run from below the ground level up to the roof were now in place, standing at odd angles to one another in large open spaces that will later become classrooms and teachers’ offices.

Looking into the hollowed out historic auditorium was breathtaking – much of the sloping floor on the main level had been removed – making the cafeteria below visible. The historic stage does remain for the time being.

Outside, near S.E. 52nd Avenue, the main-floor concrete slab has been poured for the new Performing Arts Building, and masons have stacked concrete block walls up to ceiling height.

“The new theater will have less seating than the old auditorium,” Mayne conceded. “However, the building will also now feature a new ‘Black Box Theater’, which will be used for more intimate productions.”

To the north, next to the reoriented track, the school’s new Gym/Bio-Med Building walls are now up above “Level 0” – the location of the weight room/locker rooms/bio-med classrooms. Workers are preparing to build the wall of Level 1 – for the new gymnasium, where all-school assemblies will be held; as well as the concessions center, and the Culinary Arts department.

“Overall, the project remains on budget and on schedule,” Mayne said. But considerable work still needs to be done, and THE BEE will keep you up to date on its progress.

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