Monday, November 19, 2007

Plans call for bringing back original look of Florence's 'Old Main'

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, Casa Grande Valley Newspaper] -- Current plans for Florence High School's "Old Main" classroom building call for restoring it to its original appearance, including the original glass doors. Once rehabilitation is complete, the historic building is expected to become offices for Florence Unified School District No. 1. A committee chaired by the district's Director of School Construction, Dana Hawman, has been appointed to oversee the rehabilitation. Other committee members are Dr. Gary Nine, Jessica Barr, Larry Cline, Bob Frankeberger, Jim Garrison, Bonnie Bariola, John Swearengin, Art Celaya, Lisa Garcia, Tony Jimenez, Nick McVicker, and Anita VanWagoner. Built in 1915, the building went through a major renovation project in 1960. Current plans are to return the building to its original appearance. To everyone's delight, John Swearengin has stored the windows from the original glass doors for the past 47 years. He is glad to return this element of history back to its original use. The enclosed wall at the east entrance of the building will again become glass doors as in the original design of the building.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison, and the SHPO Architect, Bob Frankeberger, have been meeting with the school officials to provide their advice in this project. They will assist in maintaining both the interior and exterior historical integrity of the building. The history of the building will be incorporated into the rehabilitation process, making this history available to the public. Art Celaya and John Swearengin are providing much of this historical information. Both are graduates of Florence High School. John graduated in 1938 and Art graduated in 1945. In addition, Art spent 36 years working for the school district as a teacher, coach, counselor, high school principal and finally superintendent for 16 years. This building was listed as one of the "Twelve Most Endangered Properties in Arizona" by the Arizona Preservation Foundation in 1999. After waiting eight years, funding is at last in place for this rehabilitation project. A 2000 Historic Preservation Heritage Fund Grant assisted in installing a new roof to stop further water damage. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]