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Plans to salvage some items from old Attleboro High School

April 8, 2019 GMT

ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) — The old, old high school — not to be confused with the new, old high school — will soon be on the market.

The intent is to sell the brick and granite County Street structure and use the cash to defray the cost of the yet-to-be-built $260 million high school, which will, over the next year or so, begin to emerge from the landscape, rolling out just to the right of the current school as seen from Rathbun Willard Drive.

But that doesn’t mean the old school on County Street won’t be missed.

It’s pending loss has triggered an emotional reaction and city officials are aiming to save as much as possible in memories, artifacts and the building itself.

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“This is obviously one of the most historic and recognizable buildings in the city and from a sentimental standpoint, we’re sad to turn it over,” school board member Rob Geddes told the city council during a hearing on the disposition of the school.

However, he said efforts are afoot to salvage what can be saved before selling it to someone who may even want to tear it down.

Geddes said “farewell events” are being organized for the three-story, yellow brick building, which sits on a hill at 135 County St. and served as the city’s high school through World War I, the Roaring ’20s, the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War in the 1950s when the Greatest Generation built up the nation as it headed into the 1960s and its intense social strife.

The building, at 78,000 square feet — roughly one-fifth the size of the high school to come — was dedicated on Feb. 18, 1914, according to information on the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System which described the school as a “neoclassical” style building.

Geddes said the city’s Historic Preservation Society has already toured the building to identify items it wants to save, like the marble clock in the assembly hall which will become part of the new high school.

Another walk-through is planned, he said.

Meanwhile, councilor Sara Lynn Reynolds, chairwoman of the city property committee, is hoping whomever buys the building will preserve the façade if it is to be converted for some other use.

“The exterior is important,” she said.

But, she noted, there’s always the possibility a buyer could raze it to build something new.

At her request, the hearing was kept open to allow residents a chance to make their thoughts known on the fate of the school by letter or in person.

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“I don’t think enough people are aware of what’s going on,” Reynolds said. “I would like the general public to voice an opinion on it.”

Councilor Peter Blais said the city could require preservation of the façade as part of a sale agreement as it did with the Bliss School on Park Street that was converted to housing more than a decade ago.

Residents can submit letters to the council or attend the next full council meeting on April 16 to talk about the County Street building.

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Online: https://bit.ly/2FYJv2o

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Information from: The (Attleboro, Mass.) Sun Chronicle, http://www.thesunchronicle.com