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Published: Thursday, 8/28/2003

School's legacy lives in future

BY SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

His classmate, sophomore Ashley Sharpe, imitated the arches, intricate columns, and high windows of the former fourth-floor cafeteria at the 80-year-old school in a drawing she did of a castle last year.

“It's pretty cool to look up and see the designs and wood and the tops of the arches,” she said. “I love this room.”

With the new Toledo Public Schools plan to renovate parts of Libbey, instead of rebuilding it, future generations of art students could draw, paint, and sculpt under the wooden beams and balconies.

Eugene Harris, a Libbey senior, works on a project in the art room, which had been the high school's cafeteria. Eugene Harris, a Libbey senior, works on a project in the art room, which had been the high school's cafeteria.
ALLAN DETRICH Enlarge

Under the plan, the school's main tower, which houses the former cafeteria-turned-art room, would be maintained and renovated, while the front wing would be gutted and renovated.

“I think it's a good compromise. They can still look like they're going to school in a castle, but have a modern building,” said the Rev. Paul Kwiatkowski, vice chairman of the Toledo City Historic Districts Commission, who lobbied the district to save the south end school. “I'm pleased we can keep some of the essential elements.”

New academic wings would be built behind the building. The field house and auditorium would be remodeled. A new entry way would be constructed between the field house and the original building. The skill center would be removed.

The district today will unveil drawings, models, and computer-generated images of the proposal to representatives of the Historic Districts Commission and the district's building project oversight committee.

“This is an example of how we can work together with all aspects of the community who are interested in retaining vestiges of the cultural aspects of the building and give our kids the necessary new facilities that will allow them to be successful for decades to come,” Superintendent Eugene Sanders said.

Irene Martin, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Council and a member of the Historic Districts Commission, said the new plan for Libbey represents a compromise between preservationists and the district. “Naturally, we'd prefer to see the building saved,” she said. “We've made progress as opposed to just tearing everything down. We get to save some of the most outstanding features of the building. It's something I think we can live with.”

The Toledo Board of Education last year approved a master plan calling for Libbey to be replaced as part of the $821 million Ohio School Facilities Commission project.

During the levy campaign to raise the 23 percent local share of the project, the organized opposition criticized the district's plan to raze several historical buildings.

“It did draw a lot of attention,” Dan Burns, district business manager, said yesterday.

Dan Tabor, an architect with the Collaborative Group, said he met with representatives of the Historic Districts Commission, teachers, parents, and district officials before drawing up the plans.

“We believe the historic elements of the building can be enhanced with new architecture,” he said.

Mr. Burns said the school board must pass an amendment to the district's master plan to allow for Libbey's renovation instead of replacement. He said state officials have approved the change.

The formal design process for Libbey is to begin next year, with construction to start in 2005, Mr. Burns said. Neither a cost of the new design nor a plan to house students during construction at Libbey or another school has been determined, Mr. Burns said.



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