More than a decade after closing its doors to students, Dunbar School may have found a second life as the city of Fairmont, the Dunbar School Foundation and Fairmont State University are working together to turn the building into a community center and museum.
Fairmont city planner Sandra Scaffidi said that due to several requests from residents, plans started to come together to renovate the school, starting small by installing a bathroom in the school’s gym.
“We’ve been hearing from the community that there’s need for indoor gymnasium space,” Scaffidi said.
“Dunbar has a gymnasium inside, but it needs to be refurbished a little bit. The main deterrent for using the gymnasium is that it doesn’t have a working bathroom facility right now, so the idea is to create an ADA-accessible bathroom. That’ll just allow people to utilize the space while the foundation is continuing to rehabilitate the building.”
The Dunbar School Foundation has been caring for the building since its closure, and the school has thankfully remained in good shape, according to Fairmont State Architecture Department Chair Philip Freeman, who has helped work on the project with his students.
“From a structural point of view, it’s a sound building,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t require a whole lot to get back into use. There are a lot of cosmetic issues, but the big issue with getting the building up and running immediately would be HVAC, electrical and plumbing — the systems that make a building usable.”
The building would also need a new roof.
Dunbar School Foundation President Houston Richardson said the team is constantly working to secure funding for the project, although it has hit a few rough patches.
“We’ve applied for heritage grants,” Richardson said. “We have tried for Bowers Grants before, but they don’t like dealing with bricks and mortar, and we have been turned away. Right now, we have a historical-type grant out, which Sandra put out for us. The Bowers Grant is due this week. That’s where we’re at right now.”
The foundation has also held community events to raise money and is hoping to do more in the future.
Read the entire article at https://www.wvnews.com/fairmontnews/news/plans-underway-to-renovate-dunbar-school/article_024d96bd-40e2-5313-9d6e-da957258eb0e.html
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