Topeka High School
Chandelier Mechanical
and Access Project

Topeka High School
Chandelier Mechanical
and Access Project


  • Chandelier Mechanical Retrofit
  • Historic Renovation
  • Design-Build
  • Industrial Millwrights
  • In-House Metal Fabrication
  • Historic Tax Credit Consultation
  • Safety and Access


Topeka High School is a beautiful gothic cathedral sitting in the heart of central Topeka (the first million dollar school West of the Mississippi!). The school theatre has 10 original chandeliers, ranging in weight from 1000lbs to 1600lbs; all hanging from a 1931 barrel vaulted plaster ceiling (51’2” tall). To access the chandeliers for maintenance, school staff had to risk life and limb to crawl through the theatre attic on top of the plaster ceiling to access old existing chandelier raising/lowering hoisting equipment.

The owner presented the safety issue to us and other competing companies, asking for a “design-build” proposal. The idea conveyed from the school was for contractors to figure out a way to access existing chandelier hoisting equipment by building a series of steel catwalks in the theatre attic space.

We listened to their need and then proposed a completely new plan to replace and relocate all hoisting equipment off of the auditorium ceiling. Through a series of cables and pulleys, the equipment is now located on a concrete deck in an adjacent attic space. By eliminating the need for staff to even go over the old plaster ceiling and replacing all old and non-engineered equipment, we provided the school with the most comprehensive, safest, and valuable plan.

Topeka High School accepted our proposed ideas. By changing the project concept, we were able to deliver a better idea, while still being the lowest bidder on the project by over $200,000 (the bid tab is public). In addition, Senne’s in-house legal team presented the school with a plan to obtain historic tax credits, and then sell them. The tax credits will net the school over $150,000 in much needed funds after selling them.

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