CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - Taking a drive down Greenwell Springs Road, there's over a century of history. What was once Central's past will now go to serve as Central's future.
"The long term vision is for a high school to go on this site," said Central School Superintendent Michael Faulk.
Faulk said Central is growing at a rate they are simply outgrowing. Currently, there are three elementary schools, one middle and one high school. The high school holds about 1,300 students, and he said it is very outdated.
"The school was opened in 1973. The curriculum and instructional program are a lot different now and the building is not suited for the type of educational infrastructure we need," said Faulk.
That's why he said state Sen. Bodi White, R-Baton Rouge, worked out a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for the Central School Board to buy the building off Greenwell Springs that once served as a place for the mentally disabled.
"This was probably one of the ones ideally suited, the land, the location, the scenery and everything," said Faulk.
Faulk said the building appraised at $1.6 million and added they have spent $1.4 million demolishing and cleaning up. He said when they buy the property from the Louisiana Division of Administration, the school board would subtract the amount they spent on demolishing and cleaning up, and simply pay the difference.
Demolition began over the summer. The only thing left standing now is a smoke stack that is a reminder of everything this property once was.
It was in the 1850s when the famous Greenwell Springs Hotel opened. In 1862, the hotel was used as a staging ground for the Battle of Baton Rouge. It then turned into a hospital to bring all wounded soldiers. In 1865, what was left of that hotel burned down.
In 1910, a new Greenwell Springs Hotel was built. Ten years later, that hotel burned down and the state of Louisiana acquired the property.
In 1933, a Tuberculosis hospital opened at the site, and in the late 1970s, it transitioned into a facility for the mentally and emotionally disabled. However, that too closed recently. So now, the Central School Board will take over.
"It's a sweet memory, but we realize it's time to move on," said Faulk.
Faulk said the new high school will take at least 8 to 10 years before it is ready.