the BNA

Law and Code Enforcement
The Historic



Elementary school plans to keep historic facade

From the Athens Banner Herald April 22.

By Alisa Marie DeMao | | Story updated at 10:00 PM on Saturday, April 22, 2006

Plans for renovation and new construction at Chase Street Elementary School call for more than 30 classrooms, a new cafeteria and kitchen and a new media center. The front of the current building, constructed in 1921, will be used for offices.


A massive refurbishment and construction project at Chase Street Elementary School will preserve the historic 1921 facade of the building, but the back of the school will be torn down to make way for new classrooms, built over the next 18 months, according to newly drawn architectural plans.

The back portion of the school likely will be demolished in late summer, but faculty and staff at Chase Street already are preparing to move out. Staff members are supposed to go through the school next week and mark antique furniture and artwork they want stored rather than sold as surplus, as most school furnishings are when a new school is built.

Students and staff will be housed at the old Gaines Elementary School building next year during construction, a project that likely will extend into the 2007-08 school year, said Ted Gilbert, director of the school district's sales tax-funded construction projects.

"It's difficult to build a new school and have it ready in 12 months," Gilbert said. "I don't think it'll be two years, but I think they will begin the second year at Gaines. I hope the new building will be ready for them sometime that fall."

Recently completed plans for the new school show that administrative offices and the school's family engagement center, which provides resources for parents, will be in the preserved front section, which now holds classrooms; school district officials wanted to be sensitive to community concerns about losing the history and legacy of the school, they've said.

The school's original entryway in that section also will be reclaimed, Gilbert said. The double doors have been locked and the space has served as a classroom for years.

Plans also show that some new parking spaces are planned for the front of the building, although some of the spacious front lawn will remain open.

District staff hope to bid the construction project in September but will try to put together a separate demolition contract before then, Gilbert said. Students and staff at the school will finish classes in early June, because of a longer calendar than most Clarke schools; furniture will be moved over the old Gaines building after that, in preparation for next year's classes.

Chase Street follows on the heels of Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary in the eastside Gaines building, which was left empty after a new Gaines Elementary School was completed more than a year ago. Oglethorpe Avenue students and faculty have used the building this year during a massive reconstruction of their school and will move into the refurbished school just in time for Chase Street to take their place in the old Gaines building.

The new 60,000-square-foot Chase Street Elementary will cost about $8.3 million; the school district will get about $3 million in state funds to help pay for it. That's money the state earmarks for new school construction, though Chase Street qualified because the scope of new construction is so massive.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 042206

Contact the HBNA: