Grant aids in high school restoration

Published 1:15 am Friday, July 29, 2011

A $25,000 grant will help in the restoration of the old Bath High School. (WDN Photo/Sara Cowell)

The Historic Bath Foundation is the recipient of a $25,000 grant to aid in the restoration of the former Bath High School.
Surry Everett, the foundation’s president, said the grant is earmarked for exterior work on the school’s oldest two wings and their connector and to protect previous restoration-related investments by the foundation and Bath-area residents by making those exteriors weatherproof.
Jim Edwards, president of Bath High School Preservation, called the grant “an important milestone” in the restoration project, saying it “virtually guarantees that the exterior of the two wings will be completed by the end of the year.”
“You will soon see those wings looking as good as they did in the school’s prime years,” Edwards said.
Everett said the grant was made for, but not limited to, the restoration of windows fronting on N.C. Highway 92 and King Street, painting the eaves and doors of the two wings and installing a gutter on the eastern side of the northwest wing to protect it from water damage.
Bath High School Preservation has raised money to restore the original portico of the school auditorium, and it hopes to have that work done by early fall.
Last year, the Historic Bath Foundation gave BHSP $50,000 in return for the right to put a museum in the northwest wing anytime during a seven-year period, with the option to extend that period for another three years if it meets specified conditions.
BHSP was organized five years ago to save the school, taking possession of the building last year after lengthy negotiations and delays. It has raised $338,000 plus more than $30,000 in in-kind donations, so far. Two weeks ago, it completed restoration of the roof and the roof substructure at a cost of $125,000.
The organization has grown its membership to 247 dues-payers. Its mission is to restore the building and convert it to civic use.
“The school is the largest building in Bath, and if it were ever torn down or put to inappropriate use, it would alter the village-like character of North Carolina’s oldest town,” Edwards said.
He noted that restoration project received a $5,000 grant from the Jonathan Havens Charitable Trust.
Edwards said when work on the exterior of the two largest wings are completed his organization will focus on restoring the building’s third wing, which once housed the school’s cafeteria. He said his organization is in discussions with Friends of the Bath Library about converting the first floor of the wing into a new home for Bath Library. The move would triple the library’s existing space, he said.