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OZS project surpasses $100,000 goal

The first fundraising campaign to start the restoration of the Old Zebulon School raised more than the original $100,000 goal. ’Our community raised nearly $130,000 to begin the renovation of this grand old lady,’ said OZS committee member Anna Evans. ‘Once finished, it will serve as a nexus for the arts, business and civic uses. The most amazing thing was the spirit that suffused the three month campaign – it was truly inspiring.’ Members of the ‘˜Committee of 7’ who started the fundraising campaign in October met with architect Jeff Robertson and an engineer Friday, Jan. 6 to discuss the upcoming work on the building’s roof. ’The first step is to have an architect and engineer create plans for the roof – and specs so we can bid it out,’ said DDA director Chris Curry. ‘We’re shooting for two years to completion, which is optimistic and doable. The project is managed by the Zebulon DDA. Like the west side of the square’s renovation, a Redevelopment Grant will be applied for. It is a state program that uses Community Development Block Grant funds. Special kudos to councilman Joe Walter who is a knowledgeable and tireless expert in doing these projects and to Charlotte Weber who is a professional historic preservation consultant. Both are on the ‘˜Committee of 7.” Future fundraising is planned for other phases of the building’s renovation but replacing the roof is the number one priority. ’After the roof goes on, our first focus is to get the school’s ‘˜envelope’ in place so that it is protected from the elements,’ said Curry. ‘We’re thinking that future fundraising will help purchase windows, auditorium seats and lighting to create ‘gallery’ space in the hallway.’ ’We want to renovate the auditorium and keep it for public use. This will entail building out restrooms and a galley kitchen. We see the auditorium being used for both public and private events. The ‘˜classroom’ part of the school will be developed for offices, a restaurant or retail shops. Our goal is that the building will be self-sustaining with fees and rents paying for upkeep and maintenance. We’re thinking of it as a new commercial area of Zebulon.’ Fundraising for the OZS project was well underway but really took off once the building was chosen as one of the Georgia Trust’s 2017 Top 10 Places in Peril in the state. The Georgia Trust’s Places in Peril program seeks to identify and preserve historic sites threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. The goal of the list is to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes. Through the program, the Trust encourages owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ preservation tools, partnerships and resources necessary to preserve and utilize selected historic properties in peril.

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