July 16, 2024

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Plan to demolish historic Lakewood Elementary School blasted as ‘shameful’

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Plan to demolish historic Lakewood Elementary School blasted as ‘shameful’
Plan to demolish historic Lakewood Elementary School blasted as ‘shameful’

By John Ruch

An Atlanta Community Educational institutions proposal to demolish the historic Lakewood Elementary constructing is remaining blasted as “shameful” by Town preparing workers in progress of a Jan. 12 review hearing.

The lengthy-shuttered university at 335 Sawtell Ave. is at least 89 many years outdated and is stated as a important “community landmark” contributing to the Lakewood Heights Historic District on the Countrywide Register of Historic Spots. APS desires to tear it down and swap it with absolutely nothing but grass immediately after income makes an attempt reportedly failed, Benefit Group.

The demo is not becoming very well-acquired by setting up employees with the Atlanta City Design Fee (AUDC), which will overview the proposal, nor by the Atlanta Preservation Middle (APC), a nonprofit that has extensive had that faculty and other APS houses on its lists of endangered historic qualities.

“Staff stresses once more it would be shameful if not irresponsible for a town to demolish these kinds of a constructing instead of preserving the historical past that it signifies,” AUDC employees reported in an internal memo well prepared in progress of the listening to.

“This is a no-brainer,” mentioned APC Govt Director David Yoakley Mitchell about preserving the college for reuse. “This is not only a Dudley Do-Proper fantasy. With these buildings that are mentioned on the register… you definitely have the motor vehicle to do some amazing initiatives.”

APS did not have immediate comment, citing a concentration on preparations to return to in-human being lessons next week following yet another COVID-19 pandemic closure.

A publicity photo of the Academy Lofts, an adaptive reuse of the previous George W. Adair Elementary Faculty in Adair Park.

APS has a track document of historic, shuttered faculties returning to use in praised preservation projects. Grant Park’s Roosevelt Historic Lofts and Academy Lofts are former faculties turned into residences. APS’s renovation of a extensive-closed college into the new David T. Howard Center College gained best awards previous year from the Georgia Belief for Historic Preservation and the AUDC itself.

The AUDC staff memo about the Lakewood Elementary proposal suggests that there are numerous similar remake opportunities.

“Staff understands the abandoned creating has become fewer preferred simply because of the altering situations of the spot. However, any place can adjust, and this location is on an upswing,” the memo claims. “It appears to be probable that a different college will be needed in the spot soon simply because of the fast advancement of all places in Atlanta. Also, maybe the making can be repurposed and be used as a shelter, leisure centre or loft. There are numerous opportunities — anything but demolishing one more historic resource in the Atlanta place.”

“The Howard College, clearly, was a large good results. The Adair School was a massive success,” reported Mitchell. “We have a precedent for reactivation of these educational institutions.”

“But we have to have to be fair to APS,” he added. “These [reuse proposals] have to be scenario-by-situation. They just cannot be blanket.” Nonetheless, he said, there really should be a demolition overview approach with this kind of “gateway” goods as to regardless of whether the building has a historic designation like Lakewood Elementary does.

Shuttered since 2004, the college is a two-tale brick composition in the Colonial Revival design on a approximately two-acre internet site partly bounded by Sawtell, Charleston and South Bend avenues. Its latest kind dates to 1932, but there is contradictory info about whether it is even more mature.

The AUDC workers memo dates the school to 1915 with a 1932 transforming. The Historic District filing — which was compiled in 2002, when the faculty was even now open up — dates it to 1932 primarily based on its cornerstone, and adds that an interior plaque indicated a preceding university of the very same identify was proven in 1911, potentially on the same web page.

Irrespective, the constructing — initially identified as Lakewood Heights School — is domestically and architecturally significant. It was created by the firm Edwards and Sayward, whose quite a few sizeable structures in Georgia and the Southeast include things like the McCain Library at Agnes Scott Higher education and the exhibition buildings at the previous Lakewood Fairgrounds near the faculty.

APS’s demolition software calls for salvaging unspecified products from the developing, then eliminating every thing, like parking great deal pavement. The internet site would be graded and seeded. It would then turn into a vacant lot surrounded by a 10-foot-higher, chain-link fence.

APS’s contractor on the job is KHAFRA, an Atlanta-centered organization whose website touts its “award-winning abilities in breathing new existence into cultural and historic sites” with adaptive reuse and renovation initiatives in Alabama. These contain the adaptive reuse of a water-pumping station into a museum and the renovation of two historic properties at Tuskegee University.

Mitchell — himself the parent of an APS university student — reported that Lakewood Elementary is aspect of the greater picture of APS’s stock of historic properties and how preservationists could aid in their future.

“Whatever we can do, even so we can do it, by any means vital, we want to be an advocate for their adaptive reuse, for their reactivation into the local community,” Mitchell stated. “We can do far better.”

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