BY ALVIN REINER
---- — WILLSBORO — Although the old Willsboro School may look like a skeleton to most casual observers, a housing project there is progressing.
“It’s all coming together,” said developer Eli Schwartzberg of Stonebrook Properties.
If all goes according to plan, the approximately 70-room Champlain Valley Senior Community assisted-living facility will open in March 2013.
The property, which includes the 42,000-square-foot building and 9 acres in two parcels, is located on School Street, which borders the Boquet River. It is adjacent to Nature Conservancy land, providing nearby natural beauty.
Schwartzberg has made a concerted effort to have local contractors and workers.
He has also made every effort to maintain the historical and architectural integrity of the building, such as keeping the historic entrances and the 10-foot-wide hallways.
“There will also be some historical displays, and whenever possible, the original wood will be preserved. It will be a challenge, but we are going for it.”
PRESERVING THE PIT
Although some of the maple flooring from “The Pit” (former gym and auditorium) was damaged beyond repair due to a leaky roof that occurred before Schwartzberg purchased the property, the rest is being saved and will be utilized. Schwartzberg has rescued the stage curtains from the Pit, as well, and is having them dry-cleaned and fire-proofed.
Parts of the old science lab are also being refurbished, w
ith two of the students’ oak tables to be placed in the reception area. There are plans for a display case with school memorabilia, such as sports uniforms.
As Schwartzberg showed a vast space where walls between classrooms had been removed, he joked, “This looks like a bowling alley right now.”
The name and number plates from the classrooms have been saved and will be placed back on the doors to serve as reference to times past.
“It will be like a time capsule. We will also place classroom doors back to where they used to be. They will not be functional but will serve as a display. This adds a lot of character,” he said.
Schwartzberg has indicated that virtually all of the school’s murals, now with protective covering, will bec
ome part of the décor, and the old basketball scoreboard will be displayed. Some of the slate boards, which include the last day’s chalk messages, will also be re-placed in the building.
Initially, the old brick chimney was slated for removal, but it was found to be of structural importance, so it will remain.
One of the major components of the renovation had been the removal of asbestos, which was commonly used when the school was constructed some 80 years ago.
Other facets of the facility will be up to date, such as security cameras, special toilets and seats, a nurse calling system and a generator for back-up power. The windows will be modern, but the wood framing will remain and be painted its original green hue.
In addition to an on-site nurse, a doctor will be on call. Schwartzberg will be looking into having visiting specialists, such as vision and hearing doctors, hold office hours.
The facility will have a separate area for Alzheimer and dementia residents.
The common area will have a fireplace and couches. The facility will have a library, activity rooms, laundry, beauty and barber salon, a movie theater, ice-cream parlor and private dining accommodations.
Among the services planned are daily physical-fitness-exercise and wellness programs; rehabilitation therapy; excursions to Lake Placid, Burlington, Plattsburgh and Shelburne, Vt.; guest lecturers and performers; musical events and dancing; resident-sponsored hobby and game clubs; gardening, arts-and-crafts room with kiln; and movie nights.
For additional information, call Champlain Valley Senior Community at 1-8
Email Alvin Reiner at: firstname.lastname@example.org.