Originally created 07/21/02

Classrooms for sale

WARRENVILLE - The last year Glenn Sanders served as principal of the old Warrenville Elementary School, he dreaded rainy days. It wasn't for their gloom, but for the growing collection of buckets to catch the rain falling through the leaky roof.

After the school, built in 1925, closed and moved in December 1994, the leaky roof ruined many of the ceilings, walls and the heart-pine flooring in the vacant building.

It stayed that way, slowly disintegrating, for almost eight years as it passed from owner to owner. Avondale Mills Inc. acquired the property from the Aiken County School District, then sold it to a Columbia developer, JBM Properties.

Today, it is being converted into apartments for senior citizens, to be called Village Senior Apartments. Mr. Sanders said it is a happy ending he wasn't sure he would ever see.

"It has surprised me that it's gone this long without someone setting fire to it," he said.

Of course, the weather and vandalism, especially graffiti, have damaged the building. For the past three weeks, Superior Construction, of Greenville, S.C., has worked to remove rotten windows, subflooring and the main stairwell from the two-story building.

By February, the building will have 12 apartment units. Two other structures, modeled after the design of the old school, will be built on the property, project superintendent Rick Trometer said.

A total of 72 one- and two-bedroom apartments will provide low-cost housing to people 55 and older.

"It's going to provide a good niche for that area," project manager Mark Richardson said. "We thought it was a good site for elderly, affordable housing. We feel like there are a lot of retirees there."

After the renovation began, some of the elderly people in town told Mr. Trometer that a time capsule was placed in the building or on the grounds when the school was built.

"We looked in the logical places," Mr. Sanders said. "We've drilled holes, dug around and brought a guy in with a metal detector, but we never could find anything. If it's there, it's still hiding from us."

Reach Carly Phillips at (803) 648-1395 or carly.phillips@augustachronicle.com.

What's Next: The old Warrenville Elementary School building is expected to have 12 new apartment units for senior citizens by February.


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