Students Bring New Vision to an Old West Virginia High School

Posted on: October 12th, 2011 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

Old Ansted High School as it appears today. (Photo: Lynn Stasick)

Written by Lynn Stasick

A Concord University student addresses the Ansted City Council. (Photo: Lynn Stasick)

Hello again from the high hills and mountains of West Virginia! As a state-wide field representative for the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV), I have been engaging students from within the West Virginia University school system to help save PAWV-listed endangered properties. Through those efforts, I had the opportunity to co-teach a class in heritage tourism last spring with friend and professor Dr. Susan Williams at Concord University in southern West Virginia.

Dr. Williams and I took 34 undergraduate students in the field to bring their talents to bear in the town of Ansted, located in Fayette County. The goal was to conduct an analysis of the Old Ansted High Schoolas part of an effort to save the building as a multi-use public facility. Presently, the city has no handicapped accessible public buildings and has to rent space. The plan is to turn the old high school into public office space, police headquarters, a twenty-first century hi-tech learning center, and - since there is already a gym – a public recreation center.

A new vision for the Old Ansted High School prepared by Concord University depicting rehabilitation possibilities.

The morning the class arrived at the school site, each student was given a disposable camera with which to establish a photographic record. Back in the classroom, they split into two groups and began to assemble a plan. One group developed a prioritized narrative needs assessment targeted toward structural rehabilitation, while the other worked on a plan for adaptive re-use.

When the project was complete, the class traveled back to Ansted one evening for a meeting with the mayor, town council, members of the police force, and concerned citizens to present their assessments and engage in an open discussion. The evening was a great success, and it was so exciting to see young people from urban, suburban, and rural America, as well as students from as far away as China engaging so well with the residents of this small, rural, West Virginia town. It was very refreshing indeed, and it was apparent that the members of the community were thankful for everyone’s efforts.

Lynn Stasick is Partners in the Field Representative with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.

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One Response

  1. Kathy

    October 12, 2011

    Back in 1977, when the High School was closed, the Town of Ansted had the opportunity to purchase the school for one dollar ($1). The Town Council at the time refused, supposedly for the cost of upkeep. The citizens of Ansted have been cursing that decision ever since.