CHASE COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – A 115-year-old limestone building in Chase County may be getting new life.
Cottonwood Falls Grade School has been closed since 2010. A group from the Cottonwood Falls community is fundraising to turn the building into a development district.
“When Homestead Affordable Homes determined that they did not want to develop the property they contacted me to see if the community was interested in purchasing it,” explains Dr. Lee Anne Coester.
Community meetings were held to determine if there was interest in re-developing the school building. Based on the support, the non-profit, “Chase County Old School Development District” was created, headed by Coester.
Coester’s great-grandfather was the school board treasurer when the school was built in 1904.
The project comes with an initial price tag of $15,000 to cover initial tax, insurance, and building maintenance.
The first phase will be the renovation and opening of the community center to offer opportunities for people to come together, such as picnics, car shows, and athletic events.
The group’s larger goals include making the most of the seven acres by featuring a community center, apartments, business offices, classroom spaces, community gardens, and a soccer field.
The inside of the building remains much as it was when the doors closed in 2010. Handprints of students past dot the walls. A large wooden banister splits staircases and hallways. Classrooms still have art on the walls. Generations of Chase County people reminisce on the group’s Facebook page.
“There’s a kind of love that the community has for this building and it’s really part of the families who have been a part of it’s history. The upkeep mirrors the dedication to preserve the integrity of the building and the memories, hand prints especially,” project secreaty Susan Alexander said.
Chase County Old School Development District has an initial goal of $20,000 by July 1.
A full case statement is available for download below.