The former Lincoln High School was built in 1922 and designed by William H. Sayler & Company out of Kansas City. It included a gymnasium, auditorium, library, 15 classrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria and offices.
The last class to graduate from the building was in 1996 when the community built a new school. Since that time, the building has largely sat vacant with several different property owners and several different ideas for its reuse. Although the building is solid, the roof has been leaking for a number of years and water damage is taking its toll.
Today the building is owned by the 1922 Foundation, a local 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to seeing the building redeveloped into a new kind of cornerstone for the community, the same as it was back in 1922.
It’s a beautiful building that offers economic opportunity to the community and county. But in what way? Landon Cook, an architecture student at Kansas State University and summer intern for the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation, spent the summer considering the building’s future. Supported by a grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, he measured the building and created floor plans since the originals had been lost. He also met with various business owners and leaders to determine needs in the community that could be filled by the building. He generated an online survey to get public input and talked with the State Historic Preservation Office along with an architect and developer who specialize in historic buildings to get their advice.
From all of that, conceptual plans were generated around the ideas that seemed the most viable. The ideas include:
Brewery/Bottling Facility – with a business incubator and event/banquet space
- With the success of a local brewery, the concept is to help small breweries and/or home brewers make and bottle their own beer on a scale that is bigger than what they can do at home or in their business but not big enough to warrant a large scale production facility. The brewery would be an attraction for those traveling along I-70 and could offer brewery tours and tastings.
- The business incubator could provide startups affordable space in a creative environment. The businesses could be related to the craft beer industry (i.e. production of specialty yeasts or malts) or open to any business (i.e. caterer, graphic designer, attorney, etc.) with amenities including a shared office equipment and conference room and classroom spaces for business trainings and classes.
- The event/banquet space would provide a venue for weddings, reunions, dinner theaters or other events. Several overnight rooms could provide convenient accommodations for those attending the event (i.e. a wedding party) or those visiting the brewery (i.e. Airbnb).
Community Center and Medical Clinic
- A much discussed need in the community is a wellness/fitness center with treadmills, weight machines and exercise mats. The gymnasium could provide the ideal space to fill this need. The local recreation department also needs more space in order to expand their services so the first floor could provide space for offices, storage, and a classroom. A commercial kitchen could provide space for cooking classes along with space to be rented by locals or by caterers.
- The local medical clinic needs to expand. The building could hold a new clinic on the second floor with space for exam rooms, physical therapy, check-in and lobby, offices, and storage.
- The third floor could serve as expansion space for the clinic or as a business incubator for other health related businesses (such as massage therapists or specialty physicians) or open to any business.
- Converting former school buildings into apartments has been proven to be a very successful adaptive reuse model across the country. On a conceptual level utilizing the second and third floors for apartments, the building could hold 10 one-bedroom apartments and 5 two-bedroom apartments.
- The first floor could hold more apartments if needed or it could be used as the wellness/fitness center discussed above. Having a workout facility in the building could be an amenity to residents.
Click here to download information on all the conceptual plans.
Redeveloping the building will be a massive undertaking, especially for the size of the community; however, similar projects have been completed in other communities due to various financial assistance programs such as:
- Federal and State Historic Tax Credits
- Community Development Block Grants
- New Markets Tax Credits
- USDA Rural Development Funds
- Grants through local and statewide organizations and foundations
If you have any input on these ideas or would like to get involved in the redevelopment effort, please feel free to contact Kelly Larson, Director of the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation, at 785-524-8954 or LcedfDirector@Outlook.com.