Second Dayton group urges Kettering schools to save 94-year-old building

Preservation Dayton calls former school on Far Hills a “remarkable asset,” volunteers to connect schools to experts

KETTERING — A Dayton organization has joined the effort urging Kettering schools to preserve the 94-year-old D.L. Barnes building, which the district plans to demolish.

Preservation Dayton Inc. has told the school district it is available to discuss ways to save the former high school and junior high at 3750 Far Hills Ave., calling it a “remarkable asset.”

The building’s history, environmental concerns and a regional housing shortage are among the 501(c)3 group’s interests in the site, President Monica Snow said Monday.

“Once the built environment is gone it’s much harder for us to understand the stories and learn from our past,” Snow said.

The Barnes building was constructed in 1929 and served at different times as a Kettering high school, middle school and home of the school board and administrative offices. It has been empty the past few years.

“From an environmental and sustainability point of view … about a third of all landfill material is from construction debris,” she added. “In addition, a building like that is actually sequestering a lot of carbon.”

Preservation Dayton promotes the restoration, renovation and rehabilitation of historic structures. It is among two local groups, joining the Schiewetz Foundation, that have sought to save at least part of the structure, according to the district.

The school board decided late last year that maintaining the Barnes site was not a cost-effective use of taxpayer money.

Snow said in a letter to the board of education dated Feb. 21 that her group is “available to put the Kettering school board and your facilities team in touch with developers, historic-tax experts, and other professionals who could re-evaluate the $17 million estimate the board obtained to renovate the building.”

Schiewetz Foundation representatives met school district officials and a study was started to gauge the feasibility of preserving at least some of the building, officials said.

The foundation provides financial support to charitable organizations in the Miami Valley, according to its website.

It is working with the Kettering City Schools Forward Foundation on the Barnes effort, Jeff Johnson, Kettering schools business services director, has said.

The school district is “waiting on the full results of the Barnes study before responding to Preservation Dayton regarding their suggestions and questions” involving the site’s future, Kettering schools spokeswoman Kari Basson said in a recent email.

Both Kettering administrative and school board officials have said they would be open to hearing viable alternatives how private funds could possibly preserve at least part of the building.

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