‘Old Schools’ are endangered

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The “Old Schools” — or the former Charlotte County Elementary School and former Division Administration Building — in Charlotte County have been added to Preservation Virginia’s 2017 Most Endangered Places.

“The list helps to raise awareness of Virginia’s historic places at risk from neglect, deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy,” Preservation Virginia officials said in a news release.

“The former Charlotte County Elementary School and former Charlotte County Schools Administration Building, collectively referred to as the Old Schools, are contributing structures in the Charlotte Court House Historic District, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994,” according to the release.

Preservation Virginia is a private, nonprofit organization “that makes Virginia’s communities and historic places stronger and economically sustainable through preservation, education and advocacy,” according to the release.

“For as long as the Most Endangered Historic Places program has existed, school buildings of all types from across the state have been individually and thematically listed,” according to the release. “Repeated nominations of this building type indicate ongoing issues with how localities, nonprofit organizations and private owners deal with — or are failing to deal with — historic schools. As with most historic preservation projects, the most pressing need is to secure funding for rehabilitation and maintenance.”

“Owned by the Museum of Charlotte County, these historically-important buildings face local government-related issues before they can be rehabilitated and reused,” Preservation Virginia officials said. “If the school buildings are to be redeveloped, local zoning must be changed to allow for a higher-density residential use and the buildings must be connected to the town’s water and sewer system. Previous stabilization effort costs need to be paid and more work is needed to prepare the two structures for redevelopment.”

According to a press release from the Museum of Charlotte County, the former elementary school was built in 1908 and administration office was built in 1918.

“The Museum of Charlotte County purchased the two former school buildings in 2004 to prevent their demolition,” museum officials said in the release. “As ‘contributing elements’ to the Charlotte Court House Historic District, the buildings can qualify for state and federal preservation tax credits.”

Museum officials said in the release that two experienced tax credit developers responded to a request for proposals circulated by the Museum of Charlotte County. “Each has expressed interest in acquiring both buildings and adapting them into upscale market-rate rental apartments. The Charlotte Court House Town Council has adopted a resolution supporting this goal.”

As owner of the two historic buildings, the museum is raising funds to stabilize the structures to prevent further deterioration until a full rehabilitation can begin, officials said in the release.

For additional information, contact Cora V. St. John, museum treasurer, at P.O. Box 323, Charlotte Court House, VA 23947, e-mail ccccstjohn@hotmail.com or call (434) 248-6729.