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Old Wilson School Moves from Providing Education to Offering Housing

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WILSON — You can find an abandoned school building in just about every town in North Carolina. They're empty now, except for the memories of students who are well past their days of sitting in the classroom.

Wilson leaders hope to keep the memories alive by turning old classrooms into new homes.

The old place is not what it used to be, but private developers and leaders in Wilson believe it could be.

They hope to make affordable apartments for the elderly out of the old Charles Coon School building downtown.

"It's a beautiful old historic structure that served its purpose very, very well. It is so well built. It's nice to see it has some adaptive re-use," said Wilson County manager Ellis Williford.

That is music to the ears of Glyn Sharp. She graduated from the school in the 1940s before returning 20 years later to teach.

No one has gone to class there since the building closed in the early 1980s.

"I think that would be great. I hate for it to rot down like it is now," said Sharp.

Wilson County is planning to lend money from a $200,000 block grant to Affordable Housing Advisors, the private developer that will take on the project.

The company will pay it all back to the county in 20 years.

Much of that money would be spent to take old lead-based paint and asbestos out of the building. The materials were common fare when the school was open, but today, it has to be carefully carted away before anyone can move in.

The developer plans to preserve as much of the 1920s architecture as possible.

The old school may not be fit to live in now, but it could be ready for new occupants in just a couple of years.

The developer hopes to create about 50 apartments for people 55 years old and older.

The project is expected to get the go-ahead by the end of the year.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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