County may give $1.5 million to rehab Old Salem school

The county may soon invest $1.5 million to restore this historic Boy’s School at Old Salem, which is located on the corner of Main and Academy Street next to Salem College.

County may give $1.5 million to rehab Old Salem school
November 23
07:30 2016

Photo by Todd Luck



County Commissioners are considering giving $1.5 million to rehab the historic Boy’s School at Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

County Comissioners were expected to review the proposal for the Boy’s School at Old Salem Museums and Gardens this week, but commissioners aren’t expected to vote until Monday, Nov. 28.

Built in 1794, the Boy’s School is the oldest Moravian school building still standing and one of the oldest structures built for pre-collegiate education in the country. As early as 1897, it was converted into a museum, largely to house Wachovia Historic Society objects. In 1954, it again acted as a museum when it became the first building in Old Salem to open. By 2010, the building was in such bad shape, that Old Salem closed it.

The renovations would be the first time it’s ever been restored as a school house. The restoration will cost $2.45 million dollars in total.

“It arguably is the largest and most transformative education restoration project we’ve ever undertaken,”  Old Salem President and CEO Ragan Folan told County Commissioners in a briefing on Thursday, Nov. 10.

The county would contribute $1.5 million. The rest has been raised during the Old Salem capital campaign. Folan and the commissioners said county money would be going to renovate the building, not to a capital campaign.

The renovations will turn it into a two-floor attraction at Old Salem, where visitors and school groups will get a tour of the building and be able to sit in school desks and participate in interactive historic activities. There will be hidden technology in the school for heating and air and that’ll allow it to be used for teacher training workshops. It will also have the ability for distance learning for student groups that might be too far to visit.

The out buildings behind the school house will also be rebuilt with money raised by the residents who live in Old Salem. It will feature a modern restroom for visitors to use.

Comments from county commissioners were positive on the project.

“I think it’s a good project, not only for tourism but for education as well,” said County Commissioner Walter Marshall.

The renovation is a potential pay-go project paid for with money left over from last year’s budget that’s above the county’s 14 percent fund balance, which it keeps as emergency funds and to help during times of low revenue collection.

Chronicle reporter Tevin Stinson contributed to this story.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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