I agree to Idea What is your idea for East Clinton Elementary School?
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I disagree to Idea What is your idea for East Clinton Elementary School?


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What is your idea for East Clinton Elementary School?

Private home, community center, library, historic archive? What would you like to see and how would you fund it?

Submitted by 2 years ago

Comments (26)

  1. Funding for a Senior/community center would come from the same sources that fund the senior center now : City of Huntsville,TARCOG Area Agency on Aging,Corp. for National and Community Service, Dept. of Community Development,Dept. of Transportation,Madison County Commission,Alabama Department of Senior Services, and Churches, Civic Clubs & Individuals. There may be federal sources available also.

    2 years ago
  2. Due to the design of the school (one story, internal windows to the courtyards, etc.), it seems unlikely that the building could be efficiently used for much other than a school. The building was designed to be a school, and the school board chose to build a new one nearby rather than use it for that purpose, which does not speak well for it. The building could be used as a library, but I doubt that HMCPL has the money and desire to open a new branch in that location. Unless a private school wants to buy the property, it probably needs to be razed.

    If the building is going to be torn down, the question becomes what is the best use of land in that location. The best option seems to be either a park or a small mixed-use development.

    A park with unstructured green space would not be very expensive. If necessary, the cost of the park (including the demolition) could be financed by selling off a small part of the property as small lots for a few single family homes that would match the surrounding houses. Huntsville has lots of parks, but most of them are sports facilities, not true green space. If the existing play equipment is in good condition, it could stay, but the rest of the park should be grass and trees. A few on-street parking spots surrounding the park should be sufficient.

    A small mixed-use development would also add value to the surrounding community. It should be two stories with architecture that matches the surrounding homes to avoid overshadowing them. Put some small retail on the ground level facing the streets with angled on-street parking and sidewalks, but leave some green space along Clinton Avenue where there are several trees. The retail would include a coffee shop, a small restaurant or two, a few small shops, and maybe a convenience store or a small grocery store. The upper level would be apartments or condos. Additional parking (including parking for residents) would be in a small lot on the interior of the block behind the retail. For this sort of development, there should be little or no cost to the city or the school board, and the school board would receive the proceeds from the sale of the land.

    2 years ago
    1. The playground equipment was removed several months ago as was the parking on the west side and all the portables buildings are gone!

      2 years ago
  3. I use to live about a block from East Clinton school and my son went there. When my garage collapsed the city stopped me from fixing or repairing the garage. I wanted to tear it down but had to go thru the Preservation group and was told that I could not tear down the garage that I had to build it back up. I showed them pictures of the garage and they noticed the garage was within 1 foot of the property line so they agreed the garage should be torn down.

    The reason I mention this is that the garage had collapsed and needed to be torn down. East Clinton is not collapsing.

    Why not find an agency to run the building and put non-profits in the building like United Way. There could be many agencies in the building and there is an auditorium that would work well for community events. I am 100% opposed to tearing down a part of Huntsville.

    2 years ago
  4. ok, I have been following the East Clinton School and the proposal to tear it down and not ONE MENTION of the historic/vintage style architecture--built in 1936, it is is a perfect example of Art Deco architecture. You'd be ruining the historic and cultural heritage of the city. and in the historic district no less. I don't know what is wrong with the Huntsville Historic Commission, but they know nothing about preservation or architectural history. Art Deco architecture is revered among designers and architects and is dissappearing across the South because of our cultural ignorance. The history of Huntsville must remain intact for our (what little) community character and identity we have and for our present and future generations. It is a piece of our history, and a rareity in architectural styling. Ask any architectural historian. Adaptive Re-use. Keep the school and use it for a community center, senior center, incubator, etc. Signed, concerned Huntsville native and Landscape Architect

    2 years ago
    1. It would be obscene to destroy this building. It, as well as the Mertz Center and Regions Bank are part of the historic and culture fabric of Huntsville. They all need to be maintained and re-used for the education of Huntsville citizens.

      2 years ago
  5. Preserve the facade and use it as a centerpiece for a small community park. If space permits, a small mixed-use development could be onsite with it, and having an adjacent greenspace would increase the value of new development.

    2 years ago
  6. It would be fantastic to have more multi-family development in and adjacent to the downtown area. Huntsville has a dearth of walkable higher density areas. Preserve as much facade as is feasible, maybe include a small amount of neighborhood retail and dining, and ensure that any off-street parking (if built) is not visible to neighbors. Bring the building faces closer to the street, add lots of trees and pedestrian-scale lighting, and scale any new buildings in accordance with neighborhood character (i.e. height should be no more than one story higher than the majority of adjacent buildings, or 25-50% taller than the rooftops, varied across the property as needed).

    Do not require any parking beyond 1 space per residential unit, and possibly some shared on-street spaces for commercial activities / visitors (i.e. maybe 1 demarcated space per 1000 SF of non-residential use). Consider even making parking requirements optional or have maximums instead. We have too many empty lots here, and really don't need any more. What we do need here is a better mix of housing options, human-oriented walkable design, and beautiful places in which we can take pride.

    2 years ago
  7. East Clinton school is an important part of Huntsville's history and it's architectural history. There are very few art deco period buildings in Huntsville; it would be criminal to tear down such a fine example.

    Why not convert the space into a small arts facility. It already has a small theatre/performing space which could be utilized for a variety of performance types. The classrooms would easily convert into small dance studios, art studios, or rehearsal spaces. They would also make great classrooms for the performing and visual arts. This use would not impede on the architectural integrity of the building at all and would probably require only minimal interior alterations.

    Parking may be an issue and some of the green space may have to be lost. However, remaining green space could be converted and transformed into lovely park area, complete with sculpture that would lend itself to the building's new purpose.

    Those of you who have been around a long time probably remember The Old Council School and it's tenure as an arts center. Fantasy Playhouse, HAL, Community Ballet,Twickenham Repertory Company and the Huntsville Community Chorus all had offices and studio spaces there. It provided a wonderful home to many, then homeless, arts organizations. It created a sense of community among us, not divisiveness. In the after school hours it was a joyful place where students and adults alike painted, rehearsed and sang. The office space allowed for a sharing of ideas among the volunteer and paid staff. It was truly a win-win situation for all.

    However, the city owned it and chose not to spend funds maintaining it. Now, sadly, it sits in disrepair, literally falling apart. Had the city seem fit, it even had a performance area that could have been restored.

    Whatever happens to East Clinton School, the city will have to commit to maintaining it, if it's ownership is to stay with the city.

    2 years ago
  8. I currently live within 300 yards of East Clinton. My daughter was in school there last year. My dread is that it becomes another Councill School -- a celebrated landmark too important to tear down, but too expensive to maintain. I would not object to that land being used for new, period style homes. I would not object to having a few homes and a park with, perhaps, the art deco facade of the school remaining like an "arch". The entry of the school is the only part of it that screams Art Deco, the rest is just a school building. This area is a neighborhood, it is not a business center. So I don't think there would be support for having restaurants, clubs or retail, like we have downtown. Judging from the opposition the neighborhood had to people parking on the street to pick up children in 2011 -2012 school year, I doubt the community would support mixed use. I want this area to be developed responsibly and thoughtfully -- I am a fan of old Huntsville as much as anyone -- my family has spent over a decade renovating our Victorian era home, but I think it is silly to imagine that "someone" will take care of this structure. If everyone who advocates saving East Clinton School were willing to donate not only a significant amount of money, but also weeks of work and care and maintenance, then perhaps it would be realistic to imagine that we could preserve it in a manner that would be beneficial to the city. If we want to preserve our historical areas -- like Old Town -- we might have to let them grow up, too. I can think of nothing more detrimental to the health of my neighborhood than to have an empty, decaying old school sitting in the middle of it, hoping for someone to save it.

    2 years ago
    1. not meaning to offend, but yes, the ENTIRE building is Deco. Just because the decorative elements surround the entrance, does not mean the rest of the building is not deco architecture. no offense to you, but I have a Masters in Architecture and I think I know what I'm talking about. Please, leave it to the trained experts in architectural history.

      2 years ago
    2. I have a degree in language, so am able to surmise from your post that you don't intend to imply that only those with advanced architectural degrees are qualified to comment on this issue. I probably should also simplify my language and explain that when I say the entry screams Art Deco, I don't mean that it is actually making sounds. To the lay person, the entry speaks most to the art deco style. When the Broadway group pulls up with bulldozers at the ready, they won't ask about the building's provenance, they will want some kind of return on an investment. So if we had to compromise and save only part of the building, leaving the rest of the land to further development, perhaps that part would be the most logical.

      2 years ago
    3. East Clinton needs a sugar daddy that could add their name to the growing list such buildings, rooms, improvements around town such as Propst and Davidson at the Center Formerly known as Civic. Can you not see "The John Smith Arts Center at East Clinton" or the "East Clinton- Jane Smith Center for the Arts". And of course with subsidized rent for the poor vagabond 501 c 3 organizations.

      2 years ago
  9. What about the money that is rumored to buried under the site or hidden in the halls?

    It is done as a school. Why not build on top of it and make it the condo's the man wants it to be? Keep the bones of the building but redesign it to be housing.

    2 years ago
  10. http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/02/private_school_wants_to_buy_ea.html#incart_river_default

    Looks like a school will buy East Clinton if the other deal doesn't work out.

    2 years ago
  11. Some earlier posts have indicated a lack of confidence in the Historic Preservation Commission. Based on my experience with the Commission over the past twenty years, most of the Commission members are passionate about preservation and want to do the right thing. If the demolition of East Clinton comes to a public hearing, it's pretty certain there will be Commission members who will follow the guidelines of the Commission and strongly advocate for preservation of the building. Likewise there may be some members arguing for demolition, based on subjective criteria like improving property values, the rights of property owners, neighborhood beautification and incompatibility. As was the case with the recent demolition on Echols, members of the public will be there, both for and against demolition. The following is an excerpt from the Commission's guideline regarding demolition. Are the guidelines unclear or open to interpretation?

    A Guide to Design Review in Huntsville’s Historic Districts

    3.6 Demolition Guidelines

    1. Demolition Not Appropriate for Contributing Buildings. The demolition of contributing buildings is not appropriate. The Commission may only grant a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition of a contributing building where it finds that: the public safety is endangered or the building is no longer contributing to the district.

    2. Demolition May be Appropriate for Noncontributing Buildings. Demolition is appropriate if a building is noncontributing or has lost its architectural significance or integrity and if its demolition would have a positive effect on the overall appearance and character of a district.

    4. Replacement. In reviewing the appropriateness of any demolition request, the Commission may consider the proposed reuse of the property to determine if the demolition will have a positive effect on the overall appearance and character of a district. Accordingly, the Commission may withhold a certificate of appropriateness for a demolition request until such time as a certificate of appropriateness has been approved for any new construction on the site.

    5. There shall be a presumption that a building is contributing to the historic district if the building is more than fifty years of age. The Commission may determine that a particular building does not contribute to the historic district if the Commission determines that it has lost its historical or architectural integrity or is otherwise inconsistent with the historic character of the district. For guidance, the Commission will use appropriate publications by the National Park Service regarding the National Register of Historic Places.

    2 years ago
    1. I don't possibly see how anyone would not consider the East Clinton building a "contributing building"

      2 years ago
    2. This is a very important letter by an architect with much experience in the historic neighborhoods. East Clinton School is in the Old Town Historic District and therefore subject to the Guide to Design Review in Huntsville's Historic Districts, from which Mr. Nola quotes four paragraphs. Demolition would clearly violate established rules.

      Built in 1938, the School is a noteworthy example of an important period architecture (Art Deco), and it has retained its primary architectural integrity. It occupies the site not only of Huntsville's first public school but of an earlier private school whose deed to the city stipulates that the site remain used for a school. East Clinton School is thus of both unusual architectural and unusual historical significance.

      Finding appropriate use for the school building is not just a matter of legalities. Historic preservation districts are important because they are a city's visible memory of the past. It is a past with special personal meanings for many: for those who have attended school at East Clinton, or whose families have, or whose friends and neighbors have. It has a charm for everyone.

      It would be very large error and loss if the oldest portion of the school, at least, were to be demolished. The possibility of a private school locating there (reported in the Huntsville Times on Feb. 3) would seem portentially an ideal solution. It would preserve the building and bring to full circle a nineteenth- century educational vision.

      2 years ago
    3. In the past the commission has voted the demolition of "contributing" structures....including a few which were in Twickenham District when it was surveyed the very first time. Shameful. Thank Heaven the state commission sent them a message. The sad thing is that Decatur's Commission seems to follow the preservation guidelines better than ours has for a while. Maybe the new members on the commission will do better.

      What some people don't realize is that the members are required to have preservation training.

      Frank Nola knows what he's talking about.

      Dave Ely, Judy Peszyk, and Rob Van Peursem have all served on the commission and are serious preservationists. We need more like them!

      2 years ago
  12. Saving the building would be my first preference, but if it is torn down, the entrance facade should be preserved as a feature/sculpture/memorial in green space.

    Too-dense housing at that location is out of keeping with the neighborhood, but that doesn't mean there can't be some level of housing density.

    Families and individuals of the future will not want the home in the suburbs with all it's space and upkeep; they will want to centrally-located and close to everything they need, so they can walk and bike wherever they need to go.

    2 years ago
  13. Private homes built in the style of neighboring homes.

    2 years ago
  14. Whoa. Wait a minute. This forum is hosted by the City of Huntsville, but East Clinton is owned by the Huntsville City School System as is Annie Mertz. Is the Huntsville City School Board soliciting public input regarding the future of these buildings? Are they consulting with residents in those neighborhoods to determine a positive use for this property that does not negatively impact homes and property values? Are decisions related to the sale of school properties discussed in an open forum with public engagement? Just curious... Should the school board accept less money for surplus school properties (historic or not) if the proposed purpose of the building is beneficial to the neighborhood and the community? Or should the School Board sell to the highest bidder--with no sensitivity to how the property will be used or its impact on surrounding residents.

    2 years ago
  15. The site is City of Huntsville. Ideas for 3 historic buildings (1 on the Register and 2 in districts). Since the Broadway Group wants to demolish part(s) of East Clinton (in a district), the HSV Historic Commission is in the mix. Thus the City wants ideas. Ths school board doesn't have a forum like this. And, if you give them suggestions about anything, those suggestions seem to get lost in the Merts Center and never get to anyone. This is better.

    2 years ago
  16. East Clinton Elementary School? Do NOT tear it down. Use it for an agreed to purpose. Do not raze it for more homes.

    2 years ago
  17. My idea for East Clinton is to convert part of the property into a neighborhood pool with tennis courts. The original front portion of the school with the wonderful art deco facade could be saved and converted to a clubhouse which could be rented out for parties and as a meeting place for all three historic districts. As it is, there is no place like this for Twickenham, Old Town, or Five Points so families flock to Blossomwood Pool which has a long waiting list (I've been on the wait list for 2 years so far). As a compromise, because this idea would not require much of the actual property size, 75% could be sold to Broadway to let him do his thing while city parks and recreation could obtain the remaining 25% that has the original structure. Huntsville City Schools still gets its needed revenue while the community gets a boost. Let's breathe life back into this gorgeous building, honor its past, and not simply sell out to the highest bidder!

    2 years ago
  18. East Clinton School, in its present state, would make excellent "loft" or "studio" style condos. The large, casement windows lend themselves to providing a great deal of interior light to such units.

    2 years ago

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