What to Do With Birmingham’s Surplus Schools?

Reprinted WBHM 90.3 FM

Michael Calvert from the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation climbs the steps in front of the old Powell School. He inserts a key into the lock and removes a rusty chain from the door. Vacant for almost 15 years, Powell feels frozen in time. Calvert takes a look around. “So this is the building,” he says.

“We can step into one of these classrooms and you’ll get a notion of the appearance.” The walls are cracked and peeling, lined with old murals and bulletin boards. The rooms are covered in debris, leftover from a fire in 2011 that destroyed much of the roof and upper floors.

Vacant schools like Powell are a common sight throughout Birmingham. The buildings symbolize decades of population decline and budget cuts. Now, as the city center grows, many hope these large structures will be revitalized.

The Powell School in 1908.

Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation

The Powell School in 1908.

Blighted History

Powell was Birmingham’s first and oldest public school, built in 1888. It is located on the Northside of downtown, overlooking the recently built Park Place Condominiums. Calvert says the building is an important part of the city’s history.

Read the full article here https://news.wbhm.org/feature/2016/what-to-do-with-birminghams-surplus-schools/

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