Washington Public Open House Set for November 1st

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 23, 2023 at 5:44pm

The public will have the opportunity to see inside a Jacksonville renovation project that has been over two years in the making. Jacksonville School District 117 has announced the long-awaited open house for the newly renovated Washington Elementary School will be next Wednesday.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says there will be a brief presentation before the building is opened for touring. “We’re going to open the doors at 5:30 pm. We’ll ask everyone to first go into the new gym, we have the bleachers there, and we will have a very very short presentation that will update everyone on the status of the remainder of the project, and overview the entire project, I mean very briefly. Then after that, we will open up the rest of the building until 7:00 pm so people can come and see and tour the beautiful new facility.”

Installers began putting in the bleachers today and a short punch list of items may still be in the process of being worked through around the open house, such as a few scratched doors and paintwork. Ptacek says the biggest item to tackle now is a second-floor air handler that is making a lot of noise.

He says part of the presentation will focus on the effort put into the project to update Washington to a modern learning facility, without losing the original Art Deco charm. “One of the points we really want to highlight to people is we really went out of our way to make it look similar to the 1932 building on the exterior, and throughout the building, I want to highlight some of the places where we have kept the architecture throughout the building. I think it would be good for people to get a little information on those types of things before they just wander through the building.”

Work began in earnest in March of last year during spring break. The project faced numerous setbacks during the course of the work from supply chain issues and labor shortages, to crews running into foundation sections from the first Washington Elementary School which was built in 1851 and burned to the ground sometime in the early 1900s.

Ptacek says although there were some bumps along the way, the work was well worth the effort, even if it was a long journey at times. “I’m glad it’s done. (chuckles) And I can honestly say even with all the struggles and with all the hardship, seeing the building right now is absolutely worth it.

The people that I know, and of course the staff, but the students who’ve seen it and other community members who have seen it on the inside, they are just raving about it. It made all the tough work over the last two and a half years well worth it. This definitely was the most challenging project of all the projects we’ve done so far.”

The Washington Elementary School public open house is Next Wednesday, November 1st from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.