The Michael Jackson Auditorium at Gardner Street Elementary SchoolApr 19th, 2010 | By Lindsay | Category: Michael Jackson Locations
A few weeks ago, fellow stalker and mega-MJ-aficionado David from Spain told me about a King of Pop location that I wasn’t previously aware of – the Michael Jackson Auditorium at Gardner Street Elementary School. So, of course, I just had to run right out and stalk it! MJ attended the Hollywood area school for a few brief months in late 1969/early 1970, after the 11-year old singer and his four brothers first moved to Southern California from their hometown of Gary, Indiana to begin their new lives as performers. At the time, the Jackson 5, who had recently been signed to the Motown record label, were on the cusp of superstardom. Young Michael attended sixth grade classes at Gardner Street Elementary School during the day – you can view his class picture here – while the group recorded songs for their new label at night. But, in January of 1970, after only a few short months at the school, the Jackson 5 skyrocketed to fame, their single “I Want You Back” hit number one, and Michael’s popularity made it so that he could no longer be a part of a normal school environment. He withdrew from Gardner Street and from that point forward was homeschooled by a private tutor named Rose Fine. But the story doesn’t end there.
In 1989, almost two full decades after he attended classes there, Gardner Street Elementary School decided to honor its most famous alumnae by renaming its assembly room the “Michael Jackson Auditorium”. On October 11th, to the delight of the student body, the King of Pop himself showed up for the dedication ceremony, where he was presented with a plaque by his sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Laura Gerson. The pop star made a brief speech thanking the students, the faculty, and the PTA, donated a large sum of money to the school, planted rose bushes on the campus, and even signed the wall of Room 8 – his former sixth grade classroom. In the years following the dedication, Michael also personally paid the salary of the school’s music teacher out of his own pocket, an act which I find absolutely amazing!
You can watch a video of the Michael Jackson Auditorium dedication ceremony by clicking above.
But, once again, the story doesn’t end there. Sadly, in November of 2003, following the singer’s arrest on molestation charges in the Gavin Arvizo case, Gardner Street School covered over the Michael Jackson portion of the auditorium’s sign with paint and a plywood box. According to a November 25, 2003 Los Angeles Times article written by Erika Hayasaki, school district spokeswoman Stephanie Brady stated that administrators chose to cover the sign due to complaints from angry parents. She said the sign “may” be uncovered following the trial, if the singer was found innocent. But, even though, Michael Jackson was indeed acquitted of all charges on June 13, 2005, the sign remained covered, and still does to this day, seven years after the fact. And while in America one is supposed to remain innocent until proven guilty, that certainly wasn’t the case here. It’s pretty unbelievable to me that after BOTH his acquittal and subsequent death this past June, the plywood box has yet to come down. You can see what the Michael Jackson Auditorium looked like before its sign was covered up here.
All that currently remains alerting anyone to the auditorium’s former name is a small plaque which reads “Michael Jackson Auditorium, Dedicated October 11, 1989”. The plaque is barely visible, though, and we had to use my fiancé’s telephoto lens to snap a picture of it. After telling me about this location, fellow stalker David said “I must admit, I am dying to stalk this place . . . but, at the same time, I am also dying to to go there and throw a bunch of eggs at their doors.” And that pretty much sums up how I felt while I was there, too. English may be his second language, but David sure has a way with words!
Big THANK YOU to David for telling me about this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The Michael Jackson Auditorium can be found at Gardner Street Elementary School which is located at 7450 Hawthorn Avenue in Hollywood. The Auditorium can best be viewed from the corner of Hawthorne Avenue and North Gardner Street. Please remember that this location is a school and that schools do NOT take kindly to trespassing. I must caution you that there are, by no stretch of the imagination, at least ten signs out front warning that all uninvited visitors who trespass will be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Schools don’t really mess around when it comes to trespassing, so please be aware that if you set foot on the Gardner Street Elementary School campus you are breaking the law and will be subject to arrest. To sign a petition to restore Michael Jackson’s name to the Gardner Street Elementary School auditorium, please click here and to learn more about the cause, click here.