An Elkins building that served the community as a school for nearly 70 years is almost ready for its second life - as an apartment building for seniors.
First Ward School, located in south Elkins on South Davis Avenue, was built in 1907 and served as First Ward Grade School until 1976, when it was converted into a warehouse for the school district.
Updates about the building and its repurposing were shared with members of the Elkins Rotary Club Monday by Randolph County Housing Authority Executive Director Karen Jacobson.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Renovations to the former First Ward Elementary School are nearing completion. Once finished, the building will be opened as affordable senior housing.
"The property is being adaptively reused, and will provide 16 apartments for the community," said Jacobson. "The construction will be complete on May 31 and the first tenants will begin moving in June 1. We hope to have the building completely occupied by Sept. 1."
Jacobson said the building's apartments range from 682 square feet to 1,600 square feet each.
"Eight have one bedroom and one bath, and eight have two bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms," she said. "Occupation is restricted to those 55 years of age and older, with incomes of $18,350 to $25,140. The rent will range from $375 to $575 per month."
The first floor of the First Ward School Apartments has a large hallway, laundry room and community gathering area.
Jacobson said C-Hope originally purchased the vacant building from the Randolph County Board of Education for $1, and then conducted a feasibility analysis and received a grant to fix the roof. C-Hope, the Randolph County Housing Authority and AU Associated worked together to repurpose the building.
First Ward Grade School was designed in the Georgian Revival style by Fairmont architect Andrew C. Lyons and was constructed of locally available building materials such as hand-cut sandstone, brick and native hardwoods.
"Total renovation costs were $2.9 million," Jacobson said. "They were able to preserve the wood trim and wood floors, and each apartment has a piece of the old chalkboards.
"Terra Flora will be taking the lead in landscaping the grounds," she said. "The ribbon-cutting for the building should be in the middle of July."
Residents in the First Ward School Apartments will be part of a wellness collaboration.
"The Randolph County Housing Authority, Davis Health System, the Elkins Randolph County Senior Center and the Elkins Randolph Health Department will partner for a coordinated health and wellness program for the seniors," Jacobson said.
"The program focuses on measurable outcomes for each resident and models a SASH (support and services at home) program. The first year of the program realized a 19 percent reduction in hospitalization and a 22 percent reduction in patient falls."
Additional information is available by calling Jacobson at the Randolph County Housing Authority at 304-636-6495.