You can help us complete important historic preservation survey work at The Historic Bowie Elementary School in Bryan-College Station TX -- Home of Texas A&M University. ***Our Project Description & Photos follow the request***
To continue revitalizing Historic Downtown Bryan TX by propelling forward the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of a community landmark, the Bowie Elementary School (c.1912). To convert this vacant and declining building into a vibrant Downtown Bryan studio apartment building – the largest historic redevelopment in Bryan-College Station to feature solar power and prioritize green building technologies.
WHY WE ARE ASKING FOR YOUR SUPPORT
We aim to protect and give new life to this historic property, but our project poses some unique challenges. The building has stood vacant since 1988; during this time, many would-be developers have looked ... and passed. Over the past decade, we have heard many in the community say, “That old school would make great loft apartments!” Many of these same people remember attending elementary school in this exact place. Unfortunately, too many people have also presumed that the ultimate fate of the school would be the wrecking ball.
We stand with the optimists who have the vision to see the building filled with life once more, a historic home for a growing community. We started with that vision, and over many months of research and “penciling it out”, we have created a solid plan not only to restore what is historic, but to reach into the future – making it a “green” building with a rooftop solar power array, high-efficiency lighting, and energy-efficient heating and cooling.
We also envision the project as an important social and civic opportunity, attracting many new residents to Downtown – folks who can walk to the cafe, walk to the post office, take in the many events and features of the growing Downtown Cultural District. These new neighbors will inevitably bump into one another; relationships will be made. A new social network will grow – not online, but on the street. Downtown Bryan will be not only a place you can go, but a place you can experience as your neighborhood.
It is a worthy project, and we have received lots of interest, enthusiasm, and support for the plan. We have had the pleasure of working with the awesome City of Bryan in developing a site plan that optimally integrates our project into the existing West Side historic neighborhood/Downtown environment. We have jumped through many preliminary hoops, including unanimous approval by Bryan Planning and Zoning, and we are on track to close financing later this summer.
OUR IMMEDIATE NEED
Key to our vision is our goal to obtain a Historic Preservation Tax Credit. This tax credit not only ensures that our proposed development will meet historic preservation standards (because it will require that we do = good for the community), it represents savings that allow us to dedicate funds to creating a high-quality, fully green project. To qualify, we must conduct critical historic asset surveys & planning of the existing building in its original condition. Our best opportunity to do this is to perform a careful evaluation before construction crews are on site (this means before we have full funding and development is underway). Here are some considerations:
TIME: If we wait to close funding before we begin this work, we risk being pushed too quickly by the development and construction schedule to fully take stock of all the historic features of the building and to plan how best to preserve them.
ROOF: The Bowie School is in remarkably good condition overall, despite years of abandonment. However, decay to the roof has been allowing rain and moisture into the building. We need to do some temporary patching/covering and begin drying the interior to effectively and safely get our assessments done inside the building.
DAYLIGHT: There will not be temporary electrical service for at least 45 days, but with daylight, we can get the bulk of our work done. The broken windows have long been covered with plywood, and we need to open some windows (adding plexiglass panels and vents) on each side of the building. Some important historic elements we are inspecting: the original theater stage, columns, historic door transoms & wood trim, cast stone and plaster conditions – to assess extent of repair.
DEDICATED PEOPLE: We have a small and hardworking team who enthusiastically share our goal to have not just a good, but a great project – great for the future residents, great for the environment, great for historical preservation, great for the community. It is taking us time to put all these elements together, but we feel it is worth it. However, our pre-development budget has been supported by personal financial commitment and folks willing to work for free and/or deferred payment. We would like to raise the last bit of funds that we need to put our team to work on this historic building assessment now, while we have the window of opportunity to assess the building in its original condition.
YOU CAN BE HISTORIC!
We would love to have the historic assessment piece of our project be something that you, the community, can help with. While this is not a non-profit project it is very much a community-oriented project created by people who live right here and have been investing in our community for a long time -- we’ve been involved in the 2004 restoration of The Astin Mansion, right across the street, as well as The First National Bank and The Astin Building on Main Street. What makes it fun for us is to see this project done right – but to do so requires extra effort, extra time, and at this point – extra capital to go forward with our firm commitment to historic preservation.
If you read this far, you are awesome! Thank you.
BOWIE PROJECT DESCRIPTION
We are redeveloping the century old Bowie School, a three-story Beaux Arts style elementary school adjacent to https://www.downtownbryan.com/ . We will create 53 beautiful, contemporary urban studios apartments in the building while preserving the important historic fabric of the building. The exterior and common areas will be restored to look very much as the building looked in the early-to-mid 1900s.
We are on a path to close our financing later this summer. Others, not familiar with redevelopment or adaptive reuse have asked, "When will they tear down the old building?" Our efforts will ensure that never happens.
BOWIE IN THE NEWS
- Bryan City Council OKs plan for apartments in Bowie School (The Eagle News)
- Historic Bowie School in Bryan to become apartments (KBTX)
- Interesting Bowie images from a student of architecture at Texas A&M University (Jan 2015)
- Ghostly Bowie News: Five arrested say they were ghost hunting when they broke into former Bowie Elementary School
- a view of The Bowie School, c.1922 - Look closely and you will see three girls (lower middle) visiting during what may be their recess period
- an article about the closing of The Bowie School
- a view of The Bowie School today
- a view of the roof today (awful) that we hope to temporarily patch in order to begin drying the interior for our preservation assessments / a new roof will be installed in the early fall, 2017
- a view of the auditorium as it is today / we will conduct a number of preservation assessments throughout the building, including the old auditorium -- two thirds of which must be preserved and/or restored
We'll post more images frequently and let you know when we do. We have hundreds of images.