The building once known as the George W. Hendrickson Center will soon have a plaque inside it recognizing the former superintendent of the Waupaca School District.
When the Waupaca Common Council met last month, it approved installing a plaque inside the Waupaca Recreation Center to recognize Hendrickson’s contributions to the community.
“George was the superintendent when the gym was added on to the three-story school that is no longer there. George worked very hard to get that facility for us,” Mayor Brian Smith said. “Mr. Hendrickson has done many other things in the community through the years.”
The gym and band room, which later became known as the Hendrickson Center, were originally part of Waupaca’s old high school, which sat on that portion of the property, said Carl Eggebrecht, a principal at WHS.
Around 1970, a new high school was built on Shoemaker Road, and the old high school gym and band room then became part of the middle school, which was on that same piece of property on School Street, he said.
The old high school continued to be the middle school until the early 1990s, when Waupaca Learning Center opened.
Once WLC was built, middle school and elementary students moved into that school.
The School Street building, which was first the high school and then the middle school, was connected to the gym and band room.
The school was demolished, while the gym and band room remained.
On Dec. 7, 1990, the school district dedicated the old gym the George W. Hendrickson Center in recognition of his many years of service to the district.
The ceremony took place during halftime of a boy’s basketball game against Hortonville.
Hendrickson served 42 of his 44 years in education in the Waupaca School School District.
He was a science teacher from 1928-1940 and became the superintendent of Waupaca schools in 1940, a position he held until his retirement in 1970.
He had an influential part in the school district’s implementation of the hot lunch program, the purchase of the first school bus and the purchase of the property where WMS and Waupaca Learning Center are located.
Hendrickson passed away in 1997 at the age of 93.
The downtown gym which was dedicated to him was voted on and built in 1958-59.
During its early years, many local community activities were held at the building.
After WLC opened, WHS used the old gym as a secondary gym, Eggebrecht said.
It was the site of basketball team practices, volleyball and freshmen basketball games and the junior prom.
There was a batting cage in it for the baseball team, and the dance team practiced in the old band room, he said.
Waupaca’s Parks and Recreation Department used the facilty for its evening programs when the high school programs ended.
The building was called the George W. Hendrickson Center until January of 2005, when the Waupaca Recreation Center opened there.
The city purchased the old gym from the school district in March of 2003.
The sale followed the opening of the new high school, at the corner of State Highway 22 and King Road, in 2000. The old high school on Shoemaker Road was then remodeled, opening a year later as the new middle school.
The city’s purchase of the Hendrickson Center followed several years of discussion about the city’s space needs for parks and recreation and the police department.
Prior to the city purchasing the Hendrickson Center from the school district, the old gym in that building and the gym in the Old Armory were used for recreational purposes.
The city’s purchase of the Hendrickson Center included a remodel of the old gym and construction of a second gym on the site.
After that project was complete, the Common Council voted in 2006 to remodel the police department and expand into the front facade of the Old Armory located next door to it.
The Old Armory’s gym was demolished.
When the recreation center opened in early 2005, Jim Ash, the city’s former parks and recreation director, said the center was being called the Waupaca Recreation Center because people who would visit it from outside of the city would not be familiar with the Hendrickson name.
He also said the city intended to honor the former superintendent with a plaque somewhere in the lobby which explained how the building was originally named for him.
It has been eight years, and some members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board continued to be asked by residents why the “Hendrickson” name was no longer on the building.
Last month, Aaron Jenson, the city’s parks and recreation director, told the Common Council the Parks and Recreation Board thought Hendrickson should be recognized inside the building. The council agreed.
Plans call for the plaque to be located to the right of the main doors when walking into the building from the back parking lot.