KINGWOOD, W.Va. – Community members in Preston County are coming together to revitalize the former Kingwood High School building. The building on East Park Street hasn’t held classes for several years, but a new committee wants to give it a second life.  

Former Kingwood High School (WBOY Image)

Years ago, the city sold the building to a private owner. Now, the committee is ready to obtain the building to use it for businesses, children’s activities and community events.  

“I graduated from there in 1976 so it’s special to me to try to make it into something that will benefit the whole community,” said Kingwood Councilwoman Karen Kurilko. “I think it’s important that we retain our history and our buildings.” 

Old Kingwood High School Auditorium (WBOY Image)

The vacant building has three floors. The basement includes a gymnasium, office, shower room and equipment room. The main floor has two offices, five rooms, a library and restrooms. The top floor has a 300-seat auditorium with a stage and eight classrooms.   

The 100-year-old building needs some cosmetic work and other repairs. According to a document dated Jan. 16, 2022, an architect listed several items that needed to be addressed with rough estimated costs: 

  • Roof repairs to stop all leaks: $50K  
  • Repair damaged interior finishes and exterior masonry: $125K  
  • Repair/upgrade existing exits: $50K  
  • Repair/upgrade existing automatic sprinkler system: $25K wet /$75K dry  
  • Install new fire alarm system: $25K  
  • Construct new elevator to connect all three floors: $175K  
  • Repair/upgrade existing toilet facilities: $25K
  • Install new heating/cooling & electrical systems in separate tenant areas: TBD 

Committee members feel it’s worth the hard work to save.   

“The building is in great shape the architect was very enthusiastic about the structure and how sound it was and that it needed to be saved,” committee member Lynn Housner said. “It’ll keep the downtown area alive, and it’ll help move more businesses into the area, more people living there.”

“We really need to bring more businesses to downtown Kingwood, and we just feel like this is a really good way to do it. It is a great building,” Kurilko said. “It’s just very well made, and it could be a really big asset to the city of Kingwood to have it restored.” 

The committee has also applied for a $5,000 grant from the Downtown Appalachia Technical Assistance Program. According to that grant application, the restoration would be done in phases. 

  • Phase 1 would include repairing the roof and any other structural problems uncovered in the evaluation of the building. 
  • Phase 2 would include restoring the gymnasium and the auditorium. 
  • Phase 3 would include turning the main floor rooms into offices and the former library into a historical archive for Kingwood High School and Central Preston Middle School. (If finances permit, this phase could be done concurrently with Phase 2.) 
  • Phase 4 would include restoring the classrooms on the top floor.  

The committee is only in the planning stages for the project right now. They are still trying to secure funding and find people that would be interested in using the available space. They hope to finalize a proposal to submit to the current owner and have the building donated to them by summer 2022.