NORFOLK, Neb. -- A piece of Norfolk history is suffering from water damage, peeling walls, and simply old age.

“Some of the plaster is starting to peel, the paint is starting to peel, we are really working hard to make sure we keep this in tip top shape,” said principal Dr. Jen Robinson. 

The Norfolk Junior High Auditorium restoration project is estimated to cost $240,000. It has housed entertainment and students for the last 100 years. The last renovation was more than 50 years ago.

“It gives our junior high classes an opportunity to use a great facility that a lot of places don't have," said drama teacher Amber Doughty. "If you don't take care of the building and occasionally restore it and do upkeep, then those sorts of opportunities disappear for kids.”

Decades' worth of history lives on in this room. You can trace it all the way back to longtime talk show host and Norfolk native, Johnny Carson. 

“This is the former Norfolk High School building where Johnny Carson actually attended high school,” said media specialist Jennifer Showalter. “And from the history that we've learned, we were told that this is the first location that he ever performed on our junior high stage when it was the high school."

Since then, the community has continued to enjoy the space for local performances. 

“Whether they're coming back for a class reunion, everybody always wants to come back to see the auditorium and those memories rush back,” Robinson said.

At the end of this school year, Robinson will be leaving her role as head principal of the school. Taking over for her is assistant principal Beau Viergutz. Robinson wishes that she can send herself off with a last push to bring the project into fruition.

“The auditorium of Junior High is our pride and joy, " Viergutz said. “You walk in and you get the nostalgic feeling. It's a little slice of Americana when you walk in here. So, just making sure this facility in this auditorium is properly maintained and updated for the next 50 years." 

The renovations could potentially start as soon as this summer.