Since 1922, the former Lincoln High School has stood as a cornerstone of the community at the south end of 4th Street. Although it has largely sat vacant since the last class graduated from it in 1996, a group of local citizens organized the 1922 Foundation, a non-profit 501c(3), to purchase the building and work towards redeveloping the building into a new use.
Over the past several years, the organization has completed the following:
- Hired an architecture student from Kansas State University, through grant funding from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, to measure the building, create new floor plans (any original plans have been lost over time), and gather community input to develop several reuse ideas.
- K-State Research & Extension featured the project and goals in their 2018 Community Vitality video
- Completed an environmental analysis of the property through the KDHE’s Brownfield’s Targeted Assessment program to better understand any issues related to asbestos. It wasn’t as bad as many feared.
- Brought in a structural engineer to look at the building for any signs that rehabilitation is hopeless. His assessment assured us the building is very solid and not going anywhere for a long time.
- Received a Historic Preservation Fund grant from the Kansas Historical Society to hire Spencer Preservation to extensively research the building and write a nomination to the Register of Historic Kansas Places (approved May 4, 2019) and the National Register of Historic Places (pending).
- Nomination to the National Register of Historic Places – Includes many historic photos of the interior and exterior of the building
- Had several local articles published about the former school and progress
- Found the entrance pillars (donated by the Seniors of 1929) that had been removed from the site and are now back (although not yet reinstalled)
- Kicked off a fundraising campaign at the 2019 Lincoln Alumni Weekend
While progress has been made, the next step and immediate need is to fix the roof. In the short-term, this means buckets of tar and spot patching by volunteers. The vital objective, however, is to replace the roof with a new weather-tight membrane. The current roof has significant leaks causing damage to interior rooms. Volunteers cannot clean up and begin repairs on the interior until the water problem is solved. We expect this to cost well over $100,000.
To fund the new roof, we intend to apply for a Heritage Trust Fund grant from the Kansas Historical Society this coming fall. This grant would provide a majority of the funding needed; however, we must raise a required local match. We believe our grant application will be successful if we can raise at least $30,000 in local contributions.
Please consider a donation to help us bring new life into the old high school. Thank you in advance for our contribution. Every dime raised will go towards matching funds to replace the roof.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kelly Larson, the director of the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation, at 785-524-8954, LcedfDirector@Outlook.com.
George Miller, Chair
Jeanne Crangle, Treasurer
Kelly Larson, Economic Development Director
Historical Background of the Old Lincoln High School and Conceptual Plans
The former Lincoln High School was built in 1922 and designed by William H. Sayler & Company out of Kansas City. It included a gymnasium, auditorium, library, 15 classrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria and offices.
The last class to graduate from the building was in 1996 when the community built a new school. Since that time, the building has largely sat vacant with several different property owners and several different ideas for its reuse. Although the building is solid, the roof has been leaking for a number of years and water damage is taking its toll.
Today the building is owned by the 1922 Foundation, a local 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to seeing the building redeveloped into a new kind of cornerstone for the community, the same as it was back in 1922.
It’s a beautiful building that offers economic opportunity to the community and county. But in what way? Landon Cook, an architecture student at Kansas State University and summer intern for the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation, spent the summer considering the building’s future. Supported by a grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, he measured the building and created floor plans since the originals had been lost. He also met with various business owners and leaders to determine needs in the community that could be filled by the building. He generated an online survey to get public input and talked with the State Historic Preservation Office along with an architect and developer who specialize in historic buildings to get their advice.
From all of that, conceptual plans were generated around the ideas that seemed the most viable. The ideas include:
Brewery/Bottling Facility – with a business incubator and event/banquet space
- With the success of a local brewery, the concept is to help small breweries and/or home brewers make and bottle their own beer on a scale that is bigger than what they can do at home or in their business but not big enough to warrant a large scale production facility. The brewery would be an attraction for those traveling along I-70 and could offer brewery tours and tastings.
- The business incubator could provide startups affordable space in a creative environment. The businesses could be related to the craft beer industry (i.e. production of specialty yeasts or malts) or open to any business (i.e. caterer, graphic designer, attorney, etc.) with amenities including a shared office equipment and conference room and classroom spaces for business trainings and classes.
- The event/banquet space would provide a venue for weddings, reunions, dinner theaters or other events. Several overnight rooms could provide convenient accommodations for those attending the event (i.e. a wedding party) or those visiting the brewery (i.e. Airbnb).
Community Center and Medical Clinic
- A much discussed need in the community is a wellness/fitness center with treadmills, weight machines and exercise mats. The gymnasium could provide the ideal space to fill this need. The local recreation department also needs more space in order to expand their services so the first floor could provide space for offices, storage, and a classroom. A commercial kitchen could provide space for cooking classes along with space to be rented by locals or by caterers.
- The local medical clinic needs to expand. The building could hold a new clinic on the second floor with space for exam rooms, physical therapy, check-in and lobby, offices, and storage.
- The third floor could serve as expansion space for the clinic or as a business incubator for other health related businesses (such as massage therapists or specialty physicians) or open to any business.
- Converting former school buildings into apartments has been proven to be a very successful adaptive reuse model across the country. On a conceptual level utilizing the second and third floors for apartments, the building could hold 10 one-bedroom apartments and 5 two-bedroom apartments.
- The first floor could hold more apartments if needed or it could be used as the wellness/fitness center discussed above. Having a workout facility in the building could be an amenity to residents.