For nearly a dozen years -- ever since the Bastrop, Louisiana became a Main Street community in 2000 -- the goal of finding a new use for the one-time Bastrop High School building loomed. The 1927 building had seen its last students in 1998, but its location a couple of blocks from downtown made it a key target for revitalization.
It took 10 years and 12 kinds of funding to get the project underway, but the grand opening of the Bastrop Historic High School Apartments -- a state-of-the-art senior community -- at the end of 2011 made it all worthwhile.
With many former students now as residents, the developers went out of their way to make the building new, but also familiar:
"Tenants who walk down the corridors, which were kept at the original dimensions -- 12 feet wide by 15 feet tall -- can see the old lockers they used to keep their books in. With the original doors intact, every classroom has been converted into an apartment unit, and each contains a section of the original chalkboard so residents can scribble notes to themselves. The aforementioned gym, in its unique central position in the building, has retained the stage and one side of its bleachers."
In addition to maintaining many of the historic attributes, there was also a goal of modernizing the building's systems:
"They installed the largest residential solar system in all of Louisiana on the building’s spacious roof -- 430 solar panels that generate up to 106 kilowatts of power daily.
When asked why the team decided to put in the new technology, [developer Tom] Crumley replied, 'I loved the idea of combining modern technology with a historic property. Back in the twenties when this building was built, it was state-of-the-art, and now what’s state-of-the-art is this kind of stuff.'"
Read more about this amazing transformation in the Main Street Story of the Week, Hope Rewarded in Bastrop, Louisiana.