Soroco school gets preservation grant

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— The South Routt School District has received a $10,000 grant from the Colorado Historical Society to pay for the first steps in a restoration project at Soroco Middle School.

The money will be used to pay architects to assess what needs to be done to restore the building's 1920s structural character and simultaneously turn it into a modern schoolhouse, South Routt Superintendent Steve Jones said.

"We need new windows," Jones said, as an example of the type of work that needs to be done. "We want those windows in be in 1920s architectural style, but we want them double- or triple-paned (for energy efficiency)"

"This is the preliminary work," Soroco Middle School principal James Chamberlin added. "The grant we got for the assessment will help determine the scope of the project."

Two companies are tag-teaming on the project. Jan Kaminski from Mountain Architecture-Design Group is heading up the assessment of the historical side of the project while H&L Architecture is spearheading the modern updates.

"When we go in and renovate the building, we want to make sure it's a functional school," Jones said.

That means proper lighting, Internet access, new plumbing and wiring, and an elevator for students who can't climb the stairs.

The district received the grant money last week and hopes to start the assessment process soon.

After the assessment is over, Kaminski will write another grant proposal to pay for the historical restoration part of the building.

A bond issue, if approved by voters in November, will pay for the work that will modernize the building.

Soroco Middle School was built in 1923 after military troops left plumbing and sewer lines on the site. The troops were camped on the hill in Oak Creek for three years, imposing military rule in the town after of a violent mining strike.

Jones hopes that, when the building is complete, people will walk by and be enamored with the historical beauty of the school. And when people walk inside, Jones wants the modern aspects of the school to be just as impressive.


-- To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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