By Luke Anderson
April 26, 2017
Casper’s Natrona County High School often steals the show when it comes to historic high schools with its imposing Gothic tower and centralized location. However, there is another unique historic high school in the northern part of town that is about to get new life thanks to the Casper Housing Authority and the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The Housing Authority will be converting the school into a center for veterans’ services. Roosevelt High School recently got a new building, leaving the old school vacant.
All photos by Richard Collier for the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office
The school was originally built in 1922 as North Casper School two years before Natrona County High School was constructed. North Casper School was built to provide quality education to the lower-income population that lived in the northern neighborhoods of the city. It was later renamed Roosevelt School in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. The building was owned by the school district and used as an alternative high school until 2016 when the new school building was completed. A couple of years ago, the VA in Casper had reached out to the Casper Housing Authority for assistance in expanding their existing clinic. The City of Casper had had its eye on the old Roosevelt High School building for several years, knowing the new school would be built and the building would become available. Working with the VA, the City of Casper, the Casper Historic Preservation Board, and a local economic development group, the Casper Housing Authority was able to purchase the building when it became available from the school district with the intent to use it as a veterans’ center.
The Casper Housing Authority has a strong preservation track record. Their current offices are located in a historic building that is over 100 years old. The building had once served as a geology supply store and a dance studio, among many other uses. They preserved and exposed the original brick and beams in the building. The Housing Authority has also nearly completed a project restoring a 90-year-old building using tax credits from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The rehabilitation project will convert the building into 50 units of affordable housing. The Casper Housing Authority will continue their dedication to reuse with the Roosevelt High School project. Richard Hawley from the Casper Housing Authority says that the school district maintained Roosevelt High very well, which will make the preservation process simpler. It is a great example of how the continued use of buildings significantly slows down the rate of deterioration thanks to regular maintenance. These buildings do not fall victim to demolition by neglect. Thanks to the Casper Housing Authority and the VA, the old Roosevelt High School will continue to be a neighborhood center for another hundred years.
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