Castle Rock is moving forward with purchasing the historic Castle Rock Elementary School building from the Douglas County School District in an effort to preserve and repurpose the 125-year-old structure.
The Castle Rock Town Council unanimously approved a contract to purchase the former schoolhouse, located at 312 Cantril Street, for $3.5 million. The building is currently used by the school district for office space and as a training facility, but the district determined the site to be surplus property in August, putting the building up for sale.
“It is a signature icon for the community,” Town Manager David Corliss said. “It really speaks toward, I think, our past, so we’re excited to bring it into town ownership and keep it in public ownership.”
Originally opened in 1897 as the Castle Rock Elementary School, the building has since been expanded multiple times during the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s. According to Castle Rock, the original structure and the 1930s addition used locally-mined rhyolite.
Corliss said at one point the location was part of the original townsite for the dedication of the Craig and Gould neighborhood. The building was added to the National Historic Registry of Places in 1984.
Corliss added that the town’s purchase would keep the historic property from being redeveloped, since the land is currently zoned to allow residential construction.
“We want to retain it because it’s historic, to continue its public use,” he said. “This prevents its use for multi-family or single-family development.”
Council members were enthusiastic about the opportunity to preserve a piece of Castle Rock history and voiced support for rezoning the property to further prevent it from being built on.
“I think (the purchase) will go a long way toward preserving all of the things that we love about Castle Rock, so I’m excited,” council member Laura Cavey said.
Some of the proposed uses town staff suggested for the building include a class or event space, a cultural center or renting the space out to businesses and nonprofits. Corliss said the town is planning to get community feedback before making a final decision.
There is an open house planned for 5 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Cantril site to discuss potential uses.
“We want to engage the community and see what the possibilities are,” Corliss said.
In addition to the sales contract, council approved a budget amendment for the 2022 budget to accommodate the purchase.
The Douglas County school board approved the sales contract at its Nov. 15 meeting.
With the contract approved, Corliss said the town would lease the building to the district through the remainder of the school year while the district moves out.
Next, the town will finalize a contract with an architecture firm that has a historic preservation background to help determine appropriate future uses and what capital improvements will be needed.
“It’s going to be really neat to be able to use it in a lot of different ways over the years and I want to emphasize over the years because these buildings usually aren’t rehabilitated in a year,” Corliss said. “It takes a lot of time and it’s going to take some money as well, but we think it’s worthy of the public resources.”
The town is taking feedback on the public use at www.crgov.com/cantrilschool.
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