Admiring The Old Sandstone School

In 1909, just eight years after this school was built in Sandstone, lightning struck. Sadly, the interior was severely damaged by the ensuing fire, and the community was devastated by the idea of losing their school. The decision was made to repair the interior and double the size to the massive sandstone building we see today. In the middle of the building, at the top, you can see the dates 1910 and 1901. As you look at the center of the building, the addition is on the left. On the right, the original school. Each side is a mirror image of the other.   

When I first rolled up to the old school, the first word that popped into my mind was imposing. The three-story school sits on top of a slight hill with a wide lawn that makes the building feel like a fortress. It’s stunning with its arched entry, oversized windows, and creamy sandstone exterior (brought in from local quarries, by the way.) 

This school closed in the early-2000s when a new one was built outside of town. Since then, it has been vacant. The city has been looking for a developer to take on the rehab and reuse of the building. It is plagued with common problems — any one of which would cause most developers to run in the other direction: mold, lead paint, asbestos, broken windows, birds and rodents, and water damage. Not to mention that the entire main staircase was stolen, copper thieves have stripped the building, and the community is split on what to do with the property. 

It’s sometimes hard to remember what a vacant building was like in its previous life while it’s sitting broken and unused. But while it seems like the building is a hot mess, engineers found that the exterior walls and internal structure are still sound. Back in 2013, there was a plan to either find a developer to reuse or demolish it. So it feels like the building is living on borrowed time.

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