The Carl H. Benner Field House in Xenia will be getting renovation work on the masonry exterior after the Xenia school board approved a $654,150 contract for the work. RICHARD WILSON/STAFF

Xenia building that survived 1974 tornado will get upgrades

The outside of the Carl H. Benner Field House in Xenia is cracked and slowly deteriorating, but the disrepair will be getting attention next month.

The Xenia school board has approved a contract with Quality Masonry Co. for $654,150 to do the necessary repairs to the exterior of the building.

“(The plan includes) repairing exterior concrete, installing new steps and railings to the front of the building (and) replacing windows and doors,” said Xenia Schools spokeswoman Wendy Planicka.

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The Doug Adams Trust is expected to fund renovations to the interior of the building, Planicka said.

The district had already contracted with the design firm Brown & Bills Architects, which determined the scope of the construction project prior to the bidding process.

The Benner Field House survived the 1974 tornado, which destroyed the high school and many other downtown buildings.

The building was constructed in 1931 and was used for years as the site for Xenia schools basketball games and other physical activities. The building got its current name in 1971 in honor 0f Carl H. Benner, who was a teacher and administrator in the Xenia school district for five decades, according to his obituary published in the Xenia Gazette in May 1979.

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It is still used for some high school and youth basketball games each year, according to the district.

“After these renovations are complete, the plan is to use the building for high school and middle school wrestling and volleyball events in the future,” the district stated in a thread on Facebook.

Kendra Stevens, a 1971 Xenia High School graduate, remembers attending high school games and going there for physical education classes while in middle school.

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Stevens said the court is located in the middle and it was called “The Snake Pit” to intimidate opposing teams.

“The field house is where we always went for physical education classes,” she said. “There’s a stage up there that many people may not know about … You go up those steps, you can walk completely around the whole thing. It was such a neat, neat old building.”

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