Historic Image of Two Women in the Control RoomGrounds of the Ursuline Academy expanded to make way for a new Auditorium and Music Conservatory.


Designed by Wilder and Wright, an architectural firm of Kansas City and built by F.M. Spencer and Son of Topeka, the auditorium was constructed where a cornfield once stood. The Auditorium was revered as one of the finest of its time west of the Mississippi River and seated more than 300 people. Originally, it served as a dormitory for girls and a place for students to perform for the public with concerts, plays, musicals and recitals.

1940S to 1950S

Townspeople joined the Ursuline Sisters to perform in plays, musicals, and pageants.


The Ursuline Academy closed.


The lower level of the Auditorium became the Happy Seniors Center where older adults enjoyed art, ceramics, games, films and parties.


Ursuline Sisters Inc. prepared to tear down the three original buildings on the Ursuline Academy campus, including the Auditorium. The newest of the three buildings, it was in the best shape. Local residents and a legion of volunteers mounted a last-minute campaign to preserve the building. Their efforts were rewarded when the Ursulines sold the Auditorium to the City of Paola for $1 and it was renamed the Paola Community Center. A fund raising campaign was started to raise funds for renovations.


A $208,000 renovation completed the Paola Cultural Center (%175,000 in private donations). The renovations included the removal of asbestos, installation of a sprinkler system, a new roof, repairs to the terra-cotta trim and emblems, installation of new water lines, reworking the electrical and plumbing systems and constructing handicapped accessibility.


A sales tax bond was passed to generate funding for the building's second renovation.


A major renovation was completed, giving the Paola Community Center much needed improvements.