Howell School Senior Apartment cuts ribbon for grand opening

The apartments are already full of residents.
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 5:02 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - A project in the city that has been in the works for years has now been brought to life. The Howell School Senior Apartments are officially open.

“When I first saw this building, it was 1978 after I graduated college," Joseph Donofro, architect, said. "So I’ve had an infatuation with this structure for that long.”

Constructed as Dothan’s first elementary school 121 years ago, now revamped into a home for those 62 years and older.

“Originally it just started out from me, to renovate a historic building, and then later we saw that this was much bigger than a building project,” Donofro said. "Hopefully it will renovate a neighborhood.”

A historic building left behind now saved.

“The building was falling down, the roof was falling in, it was a eye sore and it was also a safety concern,” Rob Coats, President of the Banyan Foundation said. "But it was older than nationally historic, and a lot of people remember going to school here, a lot of people remember what it meant to the community.”

A project never done before within the city. The City of Dothan granted a $1.5 million dollars.

“We had so many obstacles because this was so far outside the box,” Mike Schmitz, former mayor of Dothan, said. “With the city and developer, it took our community to say, we need this, let’s do it, and we got it done.”

Challenges were overcome during the process.

“We saw the building almost collapse," Donofro said. "There were times where we doubted this thing would ever get off the ground, and to have come that far to where we are now it’s unbelievable.”

The reconstruction crossing through two different groups of city leaders.

“Such a great investment for any neighborhood, but in particular this neighborhood, we are so proud of it, we are extremely pleased,” Mark Saliba, mayor of Dothan, said.

Instead of bulldozing history, revitalizing a part of downtown. Once a vision, now brought into reality.

“I can’t believe we are actually standing here talking about this renovated structure,” Donofro said. "It’s probably one of Alabama’s finest pieces of architecture, its Romanesque revival, and Dothan is very fortunate to have this.”

The Howell School Senior Apartments is already full of residents.

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