Interest in future of Cap Emmons still high

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 24, 2003

The old Albert Lea High School has been sitting empty for over one year, and that’s drawing the attention of a few Albert Lea residents.

John Petersen of Albert Lea has been one of the most outspoken in favor of revitalizing the building, which is owned by Hastings businessman Ed Rymer.

Rymer has said as recently as two weeks ago that he is looking into converting the building into senior housing. He said then that he would make his proposal public sometime in mid-March.

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Meanwhile, Petersen, with the permission of Rymer, has been giving groups a tour of the school to see the Cap Emmons Auditorium, which was built in 1939 under a New Deal program. He said the auditorium is in good shape and is probably one of the largest spaces in town for a theater-type event, with 1,800 seats.

&uot;There are a lot of people in this town who would like to see the auditorium preserved,&uot; Petersen said. &uot;It’s really a great space.&uot;

Making the whole building into a community center was one of the ideas Petersen had, as well.

&uot;There is so much space in there,&uot; he said. &uot;They have a giant cafeteria, many classrooms, two gymnasiums and a huge swimming pool. What I had in mind was if we could make some sort of southern Minnesota convention center or something.&uot;

Rymer was unavailable for comment.