MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Nearly 8 months after the Christmas Day tornado ravaged through Midtown Mobile, historic Murphy High School is set to reopen Monday morning.
On Sunday, August 18, FOX10 News got a special sneak peak at what repairs have been made to the 87-year-old school.
In May, when Mobile County Public School Superintendent said: "We made a commitment that we would have the staff and students back on campus at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year,” she meant every word.
"As far as the overall appearance of the campus compared to December 25 to today's appearance of the campus…it's been transformed greatly,” said Tommy Sheffield, Executive Manager of Operations for the Mobile County Public School System.
Alongside Sheffield was Superintendent for RCCI Contractors, Buck Fillingim, for a special behind-the-scenes tour of Murphy High School, including an exclusive rooftop view, showing just how far the school has come since the December 25 tornado.
Both Sheffield and Fillingim said replacing items like the terracotta roof tiles took the cooperation of many.
"As we open tomorrow, it shows what good team work will do,” said Sheffield.
Contractors, architects, board members, teachers, parents and students make up that team and together they stand strong, all while rebuilding a piece of Mobile.
"Murphy High School is one of a kind. They couldn't see demolishing it. They knew it'd be a challenge putting it back together. But we've done it. I knew up front it was going to be a big challenge to put this building back in that length of time, 7 months, in order for school to start back,” said Fillingim.
In those seven months, finding the right modern-day materials to reconstruct such a historic building was a challenge all in itself.
"We've had to have orders placed in order to put the school back in 7 months,” said Fillingim.
"Because of the availability of these products, they're not just sitting on the shelves. A lot of the deckings had to be milled, made, special ordered and shipped,” said Sheffield.
"The decking for instance, it has tongue and groove materials that they no longer sell but they can still make it. That said, we were able to do that and put it back,” said Fillingim.
In the end, after the last nail is hammered and the last tile is in place, Murphy’s historic campus will be reopened for generations to come.
“That's our goal. We're going to maintain the historical values out here; the appearance. That's Murphy. That's part of downtown,” said Sheffield.
Sheffield said the reconstruction process cost about $10 million at the Murphy campus alone and roughly $3 million at the Clark-Shaw campus.
Over the next two years, more renovations will be made to the campus to upgrade buildings to modern codes and new technology.
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