Roaring to a finish / Structural renovations at Ogden High School almost wrapped up; now it's time for cosmetic touches

Aug 9 2010 - 11:34pm

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(DI LEWIS/Standard-Examiner) The new entrance to Ogden High School sits against the old building. Most structural upgrades have been completed; now indoor cosmetic renovations await attention before school starts later this month.
(DI LEWIS/Standard-Examiner)  Work continues at the school.
(DI LEWIS/Standard-Examiner) The new entrance to Ogden High School sits against the old building. Most structural upgrades have been completed; now indoor cosmetic renovations await attention before school starts later this month.
(DI LEWIS/Standard-Examiner)  Work continues at the school.

OGDEN -- Most of the structural work on Ogden High School is finished, and now workers face the long task of making the interior look like a school again.

A new roof has been put on the theater, installed in one marathon session starting last Tuesday right before midnight and ending at 2 a.m. Thursday, said Tim Sobotka, Hughes Construction project superintendent.

It is one of the many upgrades being made from a $95.3 million bond for Ogden School District, passed in 2006. In addition to the bond, the Ogden School Foundation has raised $7.2 million of its $9 million goal for historic preservation and restoration.

Construction workers are pushing hard to get as much done as possible before school starts later this month.

"We just do it," Sobotka said. "We just go. Summer is the best time for us."

Sobotka said the structural upgrades are almost complete and now it is largely the interior that needs to be finished.

In addition to seismic upgrades and other improvements, he said, access for those with disabilities will be much better.

Some windows also have been replaced, which Sobotka said makes a big difference in the temperature of the classrooms.

Finding windows that looked like the old ones, while still meeting the needs of the upgrade, was a challenge for the foundation, said Janis Vause, executive director of the Ogden School Foundation.

"They look just like the old bank of windows," Vause said after seeing them in the school.

While it has been a challenge to work in a historic school, that's also been part of the fun, Sobotka said.

"After this project, a lot of the projects that follow will seem a little mundane," he said. "How often do you find a high school with marble in the bathrooms?"

Vause said the amount of money they've raised during a recession shows how much the community cares about Ogden High and education.

Donna Corby, Ogden School District spokeswoman, agrees, saying, "It's funny that it (the school) was built in the Depression. Now we're doing it again in a recession. It just shows this commitment.

"I don't know what it is about this community, but that's a commitment to education."

Vause said the preservation is an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy to the community.

She knows historic preservation is more expensive than demolishing would have been, so she is happy that private donors have stepped up to help fund it.

For Vause, seeing the details begin to come together to create a hybrid of old and new is the most rewarding part of the project.

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