MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) Mobile's historic Barton Academy is about to be reinvented as... an academy!
The announcement was made at a Monday news conference inside the old structure.
Barton Academy served, for a time, as a hospital during the civil war.
It's also served as the central office for Mobile County Public Schools.
If all goes as planned, Barton will become a school.
"We are here to announce the launch of the Barton Academy Foundation capital campaign for the Barton Academy of Advanced World Studies," announced Jaime Betbeze.
"That's our sole purpose," he said, "to preserve this facility so that the school system can put it back to use as a school."
Students at Barton Academy?
Not such a bizarre idea.
After all, this was built as Mobile's first public school, seeing its firsts students in 1839, and was Mobile's only public high school until Murphy was built in the 1920's.
Then it became Mobile School Headquarters, until 2007, when it became vacant and has been ever since.
And many Mobilians have watched in dismay as the building's exterior began to fade, its landmark dome all but crumbling.
But soon, 3.5 million dollars in construction bond money will trigger exterior repairs.
It will be up to the new foundation to raise money to finish the job.
"Once the exterior renovations are done, then this building has to go back from an office building, which it's been for the last 45 years, to an actual school building," said Betbeze," so there are a lot of details that have to be put into place."
That could be at least two years away.
When all is done, the new Barton Academy can be born.
A school that, Superintendent Martha Peek said, will focus on languages and cultures that would allow students to compete internationally and here at home.
"It will be very hands on," she said, "interactive learning with a lot of current events and languages involved. And that's the prospect for this school."