Botetourt County community renovating former Colonial Elementary School for new educational use

Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 10:02 AM EST
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BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - A former Botetourt County Elementary School could soon see its hallways filled with students again after an effort by community members to save the educational building.

“This has probably been a dream that so many families have thought about, but the opportunity never really arose. So people have just come out of the wood work. Additionally people in the community here are super excited that the building is not just still in disrepair,” said 640 President Vera Wilson

Built in 1939, Colonial Elementary School was a place where students could receive their education and make new friends. But over the years the wear and tear on the building started to become a problem, along with overpopulation.

“They decided to build a new Colonial Elementary School to the tune of about $25 million. As soon as it was completed, all the staff, children and everybody that was involved in the school moved to the new school,” said Botetourt County Supervisor Billy Martin, Sr.

And what Martin said was left was an abandoned building with no purpose. After much debate for ideas, citizens in the Blue Ridge made the decision to upkeep and renovate the building themselves.

“Really a bunch of grandparents who were praying for people to start homeschooling or pursuing Christian education. Two or three days later, a couple called me and said we have a building, we know about this building that is coming up for proposal in Botetourt County. They said you have the vision; you have the students, as I run a large homeschool academy now. We can connect you with people who know the other part. So then it bubbled up. I started the non-profit and here we are,” said Wilson.

So, after meeting with the Board of Supervisors, beating out one other bid for the building, and confirmation through the EDA. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to sell the school to the 640 Group for $10.

“If we would have taken on that project, oh gosh, that would have been a large debt for the county, and we found out we didn’t have any use for it, so this way we can sell it to the 640 Group. They can keep it nice and renovated and in the community,” said Martin Sr.

Martin Sr. said he’s proud of the people in the community for coming together to make the school useful and keep its history intact.

" I call it a homeschool mecca. You can come and take what you want. You can come and just take theatre, you can come and take a full variety of classes, everything you need for Kindergarten or first grade or 12th grade. But then to also have a library here, to have sports here, to have the theatre, to have other classes and other courses here for everybody in the homeschool area around,” said Wilson.

“It takes a good bit of effort to collect a group of people that want to do something like that and lead them in what you have to do to make it come to fruition. They’re all excited about it so I’m glad they went ahead and were able to do that,” said Martin Sr.

Wilson said its taking between $600,000 to $700,000 to get the school in the condition it needs to be in, but the group is on the right track and has a goal to open the doors for the 2024-2025 school year.

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