Historians want to save burned Powell school building - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Historians want to save burned Powell school building


The old Powell School in downtown Birmingham remains abandoned and an eyesore for now.
It caught fire in January, though one group works to save the building.

Mike Calvert, a volunteer with the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation, said, "This is a potential loft or apartment project. A potential architectural or office, or just a business location."

Mike Calvert has high hopes for what's left of the old Powell School. He talks about how he felt when the building was gutted after a huge fire in January.

Calvert said, "Very disappointed to see such a fine historic structure burning, but we're confident it can be saved." And work is underway to do so.

Inside is a pile of debris from the on-going clean-up effort. Supporters say it's important to save the building because it was the first school in Birmingham.

Another reason is because of the foundation was built in the 1880's.

Sam Frazier, the Alabama Advisor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said "It is probably one of the finest examples of high victorian architecture in the state."

The Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation is on a six month deadline to prove to the mayor and city council that the building can be transformed into something great again.

Frazier said, "We're suppose to either have found somebody to fix it, take it on or at least show we've made significant progress." People, like Millanne Khleif, are keeping their fingers crossed.

She works with the Park Place Apartment Homes, which are across the street from where the building remains an eye sore.

Millanne Khleif said, "It really is a beautiful structure. It would really bring a lot to the community if it were renovated."

Another priority right now is to get a brand new roof put on the building. I'm told there are developers who have shown interest in renovating the building for business use.

If all goes all planned, the goal is to have the building operable in a year or two.

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