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Community Will Decide What to Do with Historic Building

REEDS SPRING, Mo. -- The Works Progress Administration built a school in Reeds Spring in the 1930s. The building has deteriorated but the town believes it has potential.
"It's solid. It's a solid building," she said. "It just needs maintenance and the city's got to be able to afford to keep it."
REEDS SPRING, Mo. -- The old school building rests vacant on Main St., a relic of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.

The ceiling has started to leak, particularly in the gymnasium, where the floor has buckled and sunken in some places. Mildew covers the aging rocks on the sturdy limestone exterior. The WPA building is starting to deteriorate.

But Tammy Fink, who manages the building as part of Reeds Spring's parks department, sees only its potential.

"It's solid. It's a solid building," she said. "It just needs maintenance and the city's got to be able to afford to keep it."

The Works Progress Administration built the school as an economic recovery project in the area. It was designed to train and employ unskilled workers devastated by the Great Depression.

The building's construction wrapped up in 1936. Nelson Holt, a Reeds Spring resident, recalled entering the building in its first year of operation in 1938.

"It was really something," he said. "We didn't have anything like it."

Holt said it was one of the first places where he and his friends could play basketball and baseball. He remembered workers extracting the limestone from a nearby bluff and mixing concrete by hand.

He said he and other people in the town thought of it as a centerpiece of history, a sign of progress.

"I'd like to see it used for something," he said. "It's a pretty good building"

For that reason, Fink and other city officials will host a series of public meetings to determine the building's potential and fate. Fink has been applying for status as a historic site, which could open up doors to grant money in the future.

She said some early considerations for the building included a theater and recreational space.

"You've got people who are very passionate and want to come forward and tell their story and preserve those memories," she said. "A lot of people want to preserve those memories. That's what it's about."
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