Tomorrow, I am taking a tour of the Fifth Avenue School Lofts, which were proposed as such to the Historic Review Commission a little more than two years ago.
The old Fifth Avenue High School Uptown, Casey Steiner told the commission, was going to be reconfigured to accommodate 65 lofts.
He represented a partnership that bought the school for $640,000 the year before from Excel Kitchens, which operated in a small part of the school.
At the time, I was sitting in the HRC hearing thinking, 'Right... hope I live to see that.' I hate to sound sarcastic or cynical, but at the time, we were in such a bad time economically, worse even than today, and it seemed like a tremendous undertaking requiring tremendous investment.
But today the place is almost all rented and instead of being saddled with another big old vacant school, the city will have at least 65 residents in an historic building at a key intersection; Dinwiddie, which ends right at the high school, connects Fifth to Centre Avenue in the Hill and has new housing of its own -- 23 townhomes and counting.
Good stuff for the Hill District and Uptown; this housing will help them weave together.
The school was built in 1894 and closed in 1976. On the lofts' web site you can see historic photos like the ones in this post from the early 1900s, garnered from the Heinz History Center. Yes, those really are (were) high school students and that is (was) Miss Adams standing in the photo at the top giving speech improvement lessons.
They did that kind of thing back then, back when they built buildings to last. Come to think of it, while the city is progressing, speech improvement in high school sounds like a pretty progressive idea.