You never know what you’ll discover when you visit the Monroe Historical Society. 

I dropped in for a meeting last night. I was early, and filled the time by browsing their collections. Incredibly, the first thing I opened turned out to be a 1940 yearbook featuring this beautiful photo of our treasured Wagner Performing Arts Center, taken before its first “birthday”.

First, read the rather moving text dedicating the school’s first yearbook to the Wagner family.   The auditorium was named in memory of mill owner George Wagner, and a large portion of the funding for it (about 22%) was provided by his son Frank Wagner, whose generous donation quite literally made it possible for Monroe to build the school and its auditorium.

Then, take a close look at the photo.  Even after a year and a half of researching this family and the building, some of the details seen here came as a complete surprise to me:  the railing atop the portico, now gone; and the columns that go all the way down to the ground – no concrete footings! 

Our thanks to the Monroe Historical Society for permission to share this image.