The Town of Fayetteville’s slogan reads, “One of America’s Coolest Small Towns.” Most folks would probably agree once they learn about the town’s high expectations going into a new preservation project. Within the last few months, progress on the Old Fayetteville High School has taken off with the near-completion of major roof repairs. Although much work lies ahead for the old school, the future looks bright for the proposed community space.
Fayetteville is no stranger to serving as a hub of activity. During the Civil War, Fayetteville was occupied by both the Union and Confederacy due to its strategic location. During the early 1900’s, Fayetteville grew as a center of law and business in the area and remains the seat of Fayette County today. The school building was witness to the early prosperity of Fayetteville and experienced evolving uses while under the ownership by the Board of Education. The school was built in 1923 by skilled Italian stone masons. The builder, C.G. Juanutolo, constructed many of the other stone buildings in the area. Originally, the structure was home to the town’s high school then later the middle school. Most recently, the building stored equipment and supplies for the school board.
The need for a central community space has become more evident as Fayetteville has continued serving as a central location for cultural activity in Fayette County and the surrounding area. Additionally, a study by students in West Virginia University’s Community Design Team verified the benefits of such a community space. The study, conducted during 2007, recognized the historic significance and opportunities such a space would provide to the community. It became clear that this option should gain serious evaluation. Town Superintendent, Bill Lanham, began contacting possible community groups and the Board of Education who possessed the building at that time.
After four years of efforts to secure the deed, the town acquired the building from the Board of Education at the end of 2011. Even before the news was official, the town was beginning to receive interest from community groups who were looking for new activity space. Interest has been expressed by a wide variety of groups including, but not limited to, the Fayetteville Women’s Club, Rotary Club, and Arts Coalition. Individual citizens and council members have also come to the support of the Town’s efforts.
Fayetteville is clear in its goal to keep the building – it is a piece of the town’s historic heritage and capable of endless possibilities for the space would provide. The sky is the limit when it comes to the potential of the building. How cool would it be to see local artists’ pieces on display, possibly catch a music recital, and visit local history exhibits all in one spot? The completed roof repair will hopefully act as catalyst to continue reuse projects and brighten the future for the town while remaining true to its storied past.