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Garner Residents Calling Old School House Home

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GARNER — Affordable housing is a challenge for most communities. But creative thinking and lots of hard work found a housing solution in Garner.

When town leaders cut the ribbon opening Olde School Commons, a ten year battle to save Old Garner High School ended. Today, 45 apartments are new homes for folks over 55 and with limited means.

Janice Stevenson now lives where she once sat in class. She helped lead the fight to save the building from demolition.

"Different people said, you know, we should tear it down, it was no good, forget it," Stevenson said.

But they didn't give in. A public-private deal funded a $3 million renovation and a new community.

Stevenson says she's amazed at how well everyone is getting along.

"Because so many of us lived individually or, you know, alone," Stevenson says. "And now we're not alone and yet we are alone."

But only if they want to be. The beautiful lobby serves as an art gallery and focal point for residents. The 500 seat auditorium is owned by the Town of Garner. It serves the citizens of Garner and the residents of Olde School Commons.

"The Garner Arts Association and the Garner Town Players are putting plays on," says Rex Todd, director of Garner Economic Development. "There's been a variety show, music festival, country music."

Through hard work and creative thinking, the old building lives on.

"For years it was the centerpiece of this community and that's one reason the community rallied so hard," Todd said.

The apartments at Olde School Commons are full and there is a waiting list. Maximum monthly rent for seniors over 55 and on a limited income is $350.