Visitors tour progress on Hayden High School project
Published 9:04 am Friday, July 17, 2015
Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia (SSSEVA) hosted a hard-hat construction site tour of the former Hayden High School in Franklin to unveil plans to re-purpose the historic building into a mixed-use community center.
Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc., as well as Del. Roslyn Tyler (D-75) and Virginia State Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones gathered to walk through the building. Al Hartley, the overall manager of the project, led the visit.
The bottom floor of building will hold administrative offices for SSSEVA, an I-Ride dispatch center, nutrition and wellness programs, a commercial office and community services facility, a family practice medical office, a large multi-purpose room available for youth basketball and other activities, and a full service restaurant. Portions of the first floor, and the entire second floor feature housing units for seniors, totaling 17 living spaces.
“It has truly been an honor and a calling to bring Hayden to life as a senior service center to serve this community,” said John Skirven, CEO of SSSEVA.
Listed in the Virginia Land Marks Register and on the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places, Hayden High School hosted students from 1951 until 1986. The school was named after Della I. Hayden, the daughter of a freed slave who became an educator and founded a boarding school for African-American girls in Franklin in 1904.
The school’s library will be converted into an interactive learning center that will offer computer literacy courses for seniors, as well as house historic documents relevant to the building and its founder.
The construction team is taking great pains to ensure that the historic roots of the building are honored.
“We want the building to look just like it did when it opened its doors to students in 1951,” said Hartley.
The remodeled building will feature all of the original buildings’ window frames, lockers and chalkboards incorporated into the modern amenities.
The gymnasium’s original hardwood floors will be restored, and the original soapstone stairways will remain in place. Additionally soapstone that has been culled from the restrooms will be used to create the countertops in the housing units for senior citizens.
“I see an incredible opportunity to take a building facility with great history and bring it back to life as an asset, and make it relevant for seniors and other generations,” Sec. Jones said toward the close of the tour.
Edna King, chairwoman of the Franklin School, said she’s “ecstatic” about how the project is developing.
“It’s something that Hayden alumni had envisioned for many years,” King added. “I really applaud John Skirven’s efforts.”
“I am so glad that the legacy of the school is being considered in the course of this project,” said Mary Hilliard, a Hayden High School alumna and member of the Franklin City Council.