Troy City Schools puts new office on display at open house

Published 9:20 pm Monday, August 30, 2010

Jason Reeves gave Dr. Linda Felton-Smith the OK to brag on Sunday afternoon.

“I know we’re not supposed to be ‘prideful,’” Reeves, Troy City councilman. “But today, you should be proud.”

Standing in the back hallway of the new Troy City Schools Central Office, which debuted to the public with an open house Sunday afternoon, the superintendent and Reeves swapped smiles and knowing nods.

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“I am proud,” Felton-Smith said, grinning. “I’m so very proud.”

The office is located in the building that once housed a National Guard Armory on the Elba Highway. And while the 1957 building remains at the core of the new board offices, it is barely recognizable.

“Words can’t do it justice,” said Reeves. “I’ve had people say to me, ‘there wasn’t anything wrong with that told building. Why’d y’all tear it down?’ But they don’t realize it’s still here … it’s just changed.”

The room, which once housed artillery, now houses the school system’s servers. The former mess hall has been converted into bathrooms, and the drill hall eventually will be converted to a public meeting space.

The superintendent’s office was once a large meeting room, “with the ugliest red carpet you’ve ever seen,” Reeves said.

A new board meeting room and conference room are located in the entryway of the building, which was added to the armory. It features darkly stained wood trim, curved and modern walls, and stately appointments.

“ Oh my gosh,” said Doris McLendon, the retired secretary for the superintendent. “I worked in three different offices – including Segars Street and the Annex on Elm Street – and if I had my choice, I’d be here.”

Trish Norman, who now occupies the front desk in the office, is equally as pleased. “I just love coming to work here,” she said.

Hank Jones, retired superintendent, was among the dozens of people who attended the open house on Sunday afternoon. “I think it’s a beautiful facility and, having worked in others, I can tell you it’s going to be a wonderful work environment.”

And others agreed. “ ‘Wow’ is the only word for it,” said Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. “This is a tribute to the architects and builders who had this visions and turned it into reality.”

As for maintaining the integrity of the original armory, Felton-Smith said on Sunday she already has made arrangements to return the portrait and plaque honoring Grady Anderson to a place of honor in the building. Both were hung in armory when it was dedicated in 1959 and had been removed during the renovation.

“I’ve already talked to Mr. Anderson, and we’re going to bring that plaque and portrait back,” Felton-Smith said. “It belongs here.”