By Jamie Stover, Harrison, Doddridge, and Ritchie County Reporter
ELKINS – What’s old is new again, and could be home again for alumni of the old First Ward Elementary School in Elkins.
“It’s possible someone can live in their old elementary school, or old high school,” said Robert Somfronko, Project Manager.
The elementary school building was built in the early 1900s. It stopped serving the community as a school in the 1980s. In the last 30 years it’s been used and envisioned for different purposes. But one thing never changed.
“This is the original first ward key to the building,” said Spinner O’Flaherty, President of C-HOPE in Elkins.
That key will soon open up to 16 apartment units.
Those apartments will house residents who are 55 or older.
Workers said the building will keep many of its historical features.
“The good is we can save a historical building and bring it back to life,” Somfronko said. .
But some things will need to change. And that will require quite a bit of money and quite a bit of work.
“Those buildings weren’t designed for what we’re doing,” Somfronko said.
New electrical equipment and heating/cooling systems are some of the projects that must be completed to make the facility livable.
But in the end, what can be saved will be saved, including the original chalkboards.
“The corridors and all the hallways will look just the same as it did when it was a school,” Somfronko said.
Each unit will feature one to two bedrooms and washer and dryer hookups.
The project totals roughly $2.4 million, part of which is being paid for with grant money.
The project started early Thursday morning and is expected to be completed in seven months.