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New life for old Columbian?

February 20, 2012 - Rob Weaver
A recent online poll asked, “If structurally feasible, should the former East Junior High be developed as a municipal court building?”

One reader interpreted this to mean the poll was doubting the structural integrity of the building. In case other readers thought something similar, I’ll explain the question.

Perhaps the poll question could have been prefaced with the words, “If structurally possible.” Because the question asked readers to select a response predicated on the idea that it would be possible -- feasible -- to remodel the interior of the school to accommodate a courtroom.

Perhaps the building — constructed in 1893 as the original Columbian High School -- can be renovated in fashion that would incorporate a courtroom. That is an issue best left to an architect or construction professional who understands concepts such as load-bearing walls.

Except for a few visits while covering education for The A-T in the mid-1980s, I haven’t spent significant time in the old junior high since May 1975. The largest spaces -- the auditorium and gymnasium -- have been removed. I do recall a large study hall on an upper floor; perhaps that could be developed into a muni court. Of course, the ol’ cafeteria may be an appropriate place to dispense justice, too.

Any entity that wants to redevelop the property likely would want a building professional to scrutinize the structure. Parts of the interior have been exposed to the elements for years. But my gut feeling is, if the school could survive a continual parade of often clumsy teenagers for more than a century, it likely has been able to weather some raindrops and pigeons.


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