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News Heritage group to discuss results of public workshop for future of Cowee School

On Tuesday, May 3, the Cowee School Heritage Group will meet to introduce and discuss the results of an August workshop which collected public input on possible future uses of Cowee School.

Built in 1943 by Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WDA), the Art Deco-inspired, native-stone school building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the last three WDA project schools from the Depression era still in operation. The school building has been a center for the north Macon County community for generations, but after the completion of the new K-4 Iotla Valley School, Cowee School is scheduled to be decommissioned.

The two-day August workshop gave former students, faculty, staff and others from the community opportunities to share their memories, as well as to generate ideas and community support for possible uses of the facility after the school closes its doors. The results of the workshop have been compiled in a report by Gabriel Cumming and Carla Norwood, both of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who organized and moderated the workshop.

The report summarizes the input received from the more than 90 participants at the workshop and assesses which visions for the school garnered the strongest support. It also recommends a potential mix of uses that  could accommodate many of those visions.

Maintaining the school in the future as a community center was the most commonly expressed view at the workshop. Many also expressed the desire to see that future uses of the school “honor and share local heritage,” since it has so long been the cultural and historic center of the entire Cowee-West Mill Historic District.

“As a community center, the school can be an inviting civic space, a gathering space that attracts residents for everyday activities and for special events,” the report explains. As a destination for visitors, Cowee School can anchor the historic district through exhibits, classes, and events which provide a unique perspective on the cultural natural heritage of the region.

Cowee School Heritage Group will meet on Tuesday, May 3, in the cafeteria of Cowee School to introduce and go over the report that is the result of a workshop that was held last August. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m.


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