Historic Powell School to become lofts - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Historic Powell School to become lofts

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

It's one of the most historic buildings in downtown Birmingham. After its closing, the Powell School caught fire. Some wanted to tear it down, but now it's being saved - thanks to groups fighting to preserve Magic City history.

Broken windows, barbed wire, and chained doors will soon be replaced with new life. 

"It was really beautiful. It was a beautiful school," Wileasha Shufford Worthy, a former Powell student said.

The Powell school - constructed in the 1890's - is Birmingham's oldest school building.

"Education is a pillar in our community and when you have a building that is that old but still so beautiful, we need to do what we can to preserve it for generations to come," Johnathan Austin, Birmingham City Councilor said.

The school closed about ten years ago - then a fire destroyed everything inside in 2011.  Many thought it should be torn down, but a few decided to fight to save it including former students like Wileasha Shufford Worthy. 

"It's really a treasure," Worthy said. "Either way they do it, as long as something good comes out of it." 

What makes it possible, is a tax credit to save historic structures - put in place by the state legislature last session.  Thanks to the "Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation," the Powell School will soon become loft apartments - helping to fill the need for housing in downtown Birmingham.

"The more we save historic buildings in our city center, that is an asset to us, because that's what this generation now wants," David Fleming, REV Birmingham said.

Preserving not just memories for thousands of Birmingham residents, but a Magic City treasure.

"It's a treasure, it's an icon of time - we don't have a lot of buildings left in Birmingham like that anymore," Fleming said. "Even though we had some like that built, many are gone. This is one of the last Victorian era buildings of that era."

The Powell building is one of nine preservation projects in downtown Birmingham. Several other buildings are also being revitalized - thanks to the recent state law - allowing developers to take advantage of both state and federal tax credits simultaneously.  No word yet on exactly when the project will start.

 

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