Howell School Project makes progress toward new purpose

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jun. 4, 2019 at 5:26 PM CDT
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One of Dothan’s oldest structures is finding a new purpose. Construction has been going for nine months now at the old Howell School in Dothan.

The construction guys on the project affectionately call the building the "Old Lady" because she's full of surprises.

They've made a lot of progress since starting in September, but there's still a ways to go.

The first Tuesday of every month, architect Joe Donofro and contractor Brock Middleton take a walk through the Howell School Project to check out the progress.

Nine months in, and Donofro is really starting to see his vision come to life.

"The real excitement happens when people walk through the door, and the first resident moves in, and you hear their compliments or comments on the building,” said Donofro.

The Howell School is one of Dothan’s oldest structures, initially a grammar school in the early 1900s.

Donofro redesigned the building to become senior apartments, but made sure to leave as much of the history as he could.

"You have to understand and appreciate the curveballs that are going to be thrown at you when you go through a historic building,” said Donofro.

Some of those curveballs include preserving the 100-year-old roof and flooring, which was in disrepair at the start of the project.

CGM Construction has also been working on a brand new structure behind the school, which will be full of additional apartment homes.

Middleton is hoping to have that section done shortly after the main building.

"We're going to try to get this one through in December,” said CGM owner Brock Middleton. “We'd really like both of them to get through in December. Some of the little hiccups have caused a little bit of a time delay, but not much. We're still pushing six days a week, seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day."

Joe Donofro is also the architect behind the new Oates on Main Apartments.

He said he's expecting to break ground for that project before the end of the month.

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