MOBILE, Ala (WALA) -- The massive fundraising effort to get Barton Academy back open as a public middle school is almost done.
They needed $10 million to redo the inside of the building, but now they have less than $500,000 left to raise.
The outside of the building was renovated a few years ago by the Mobile County Public School system, renewing every surface from the fence to the top of the dome.
Construction on the inside is set to start next year and have students walking the halls by August 2021.
“It will be a state of the art school for middle school students,” said Elizabeth Stevens, President of the Barton Academy Foundation.
For nearly two centuries, Barton Academy has stood the test of time. Sitting at the intersection of Government and Cedar streets since the 1830's.
“It is obviously a very prominent landmark on our main street in our city and we didn't want anything to like demolition to ever be a part of the conversation,” Stevens said.
Barton Academy is one of the oldest school's in Alabama. The building has not had classes in about 60 years. In the 1960's it was turned into the central office for the Mobile County Public School system, until 2007. Since then, it has sat empty.
“The walls have stories; the walls have memories and they need continued life in them,” Stevens said.
The new school would be known as Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies. It would teach about 300 middle school students a year.
“By bringing 350 students and their families downtown and the staff of 50 or 60 downtown it will have a radiating aurora of vitality and it will have a boost for the downtown community,” said John Peebles, who is leading the fundraising effort.
The foundation said over 500 people, businesses and foundations have donated to this building revival.
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