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Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015

Old school building heading to auction block

Monday, September 8, 2008

The gymnasium at the old Coalmont High School.
COALMONT -- It's not every day that an old school building goes up for sale.

But Friday at 4 p.m., the old Coalmont School on State Road 159 will hit the auction block.

For auctioneer John Wells, of Wells Auction Company in Worthington, the opportunity to sell a school he attended as a youngster will be a nostalgic experience that will conjure up thoughts of yesteryear.

Wells, who attended the Clay City-based school during his sixth- and seventh-grades, said selling a school will be a first for him.

"I spent two years there. There are memories of being in school there and playing basketball in the gym. There are literally thousands of kids who went through that school there. It's sad to see it, but maybe somebody will continue to use it for some type of purpose that the community or other people get to see it or use it," he told the Greene County Daily.

The sale of the 24,000 square feet building presents some challenges.

Wells noted that being an aging building the upkeep costs are not cheap.

"That's basically why the school (corporation) has deemed it not useful for them. They have deemed that it's just a detriment to them -- the expense of keeping it up. They no longer need it for their use and are letting somebody else see if they can find a use for it," he explained.

The trick is finding a buyer for the building and its accompanying 7.68 acres of property. He stressed there is no minimum bid that is required.

"Whatever the highest bid is on Sept. 12, that person will be the owner," Wells said. "That is what an auction is all about and that is where we find out what the value is. Whoever in attendance and has an interest in it, that will bring out the value."

Wells is hopeful for a good turnout at the auction.

"The challenge is finding or getting the word to the right people promoting it for the right use. It has a lot of different uses if people are creative. For most people they don't see a use unless they want to start a school and have classrooms with a gymnasium. That would be a possible use for it." he said. "Other than that it's being creative. Obviously with a gymnasium, and it has six classrooms, it would be a lot of good storage space if someone needed storage space."

Wells pointed out there is a stage on the end of the gymnasium and a kitchen/cafeteria room on a lower level below the gym bleachers.

"I've been in and seen other old schools that have been re-utilized for small factories or that type of thing," he said.

Wells also remembers seeing a school in Ohio that has been converted to apartments and where the cafeteria once stood, it was converted into a restaurant.

The classroom part of the building was constructed in 1950.

In 1963, the old high school was consolidated into the Metropolitan School District of Shakamak. The consolidation brought together students from Coalmont, Lewis Township, Midland and Jasonville schools into modern-day Shakamak Junior-Senior High School as well as Shakamak Elementary School.

From then on it was used for some junior high grades as late as 1990, according to former Shakamak Superintendent Don Wells. The gym was still being used for some lower grade basketball games and practices in the late 1990s.

The old high school building constructed in 1936 -- which is now demolished -- sat on the north side of the property.

"The building is not in terrible physical condition. The main physical concerns with it the roofing. The gym has a curved roof and it's in pretty good shape. But where the classrooms are on the west and south sides, they have pretty much a flat roof and of course, a flat roof is hard to maintain," John Wells explained. "Over the last few years they have leaked some."

Wells said the building is a frame structure with brick and he called it "solid."

"It's not everyday that a person even gets the opportunity to own a school or a gymnasium that is ready to go. I was just in it a couple days ago and the gymnasium -- the floor is still good and the basketball goals are still there. You could go in right now and have a ballgame or whatever other use you could dream of for that facility," the auctioneer added.

Among those with a special interest in the sale is Warren Stevenson, of rural Jasonville, who serves as president of the Coalmont School Alumni Association.

Stevenson attended class in the first year the Coalmont school was finished in 1950-51.

He served on a committee that looked into possible uses and in the end recommended to the school board that the building be sold. That decision came following a series of public meetings were conducted after he made the announcement of the building's demise at the 2007 alumni banquet.

The annual alumni group gathering usually attracts more than 200 people who come back every year to fellowship and reminisce about their days at Coalmont.

"The thought (of the sale) was the dollars that is was costing the school corporation to keep it," Stevenson said.

He pointed out he would like to see the building remain in use as a school or for some youth organization and he said Lewis Township does not have the finances to maintain it.

Stevenson said he'll be at the auction and he understands the era for the school as he has known it for more than a half century has changed.

"It's not feasible for Shakamak to maintain it and I understand that with the age of the building and it's been used for very little," he said. "I'd love to see it stand here forever because that is where I went to school, but reality says that's not going to happen."

For more information about the sale or the view the property before the sale, contact Wells' office by phone at 875-2323 or by e-mail at info@wellsauctioncompany.com.

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