Saturday , August 4th will mark 2 months since we resumed work on the School after a nearly 2 year halt. It was like it had never been touched. In 8 weeks , we have cleared one of the Courtyards completely, the second one about 40%.. Have removed most dying, and non-contributing , and weed trees from up against the building, out of fence lines , removed probably in the neighborhood of 60-70 yards of vines, cat briar, Virginia creeper, wild lantana, etc from Courtyards, off of the building, out of its back yard, and have probably now 60% of the back yard cleared. about 80% of the College St side cleared , cleaned up and mowed, Around the same for the Front of the School, and down the Chelsea St. side of the property. Additionally we have cleaned the fence lines almost entirely along College and Chelsea. Visibility into the property from commencement to present is a night and day comparison. We have trimmed about 1/3 of the property's contributing trees , greatly doing away with the blight and lack of visibility looking into the property. Have lost count of the bags of trash bagged up, Pickup truck load after load of construction debris and broken , destroyed , burned elements tossed out of the Building by vandals. In the weeks to come ,we hope to complete the work in the Back yard.. Clearing it and the 3 adjacent lots , all the way to Roselle Street. Removing a few remaining non-contributing, seriously diseased and dying trees , replacing concrete coverings of the front planters on either side of the entrance steps. Following that, we will attempt to get a water source to the building so that we can pressure-wash the Cornice trim all the way around the building and Capital. We want to repair the damage done to the Capital by the Crane which struck it , during the building of the fly-over ramp, that was never fixed. We want to paint the roof line and the base of the building stair rails , columns, Portico , side entrances and trim all the way around the School, all to one uniform color, perhaps the cement color it once was, and keep plenty of paint on hand, as we know taggers will always try to undo what we try to make better.
Upon completion of this work we will move to the interior... the much harder part of this process. We essentially want to clear the building entirely , all floors , staircases, every room of any and all debris, remove the remaining failed parts of the Auditorium roof, and extensive vegetation growing within. The list is extensive.. When we are done, our hope is that the building will finally be in a proper "Mothball" status, ready to undergo refurbishment. We also hope that for the first time in decades, people will drive by it and not see it any longer as an "eyesore" but looking promising for some practical use. One of the volunteers who happen to do restoration on old homes in the Jacksonville area , thinks that the School would be best utilized to be restored as a School and perhaps offer a variety of curriculum , including Historic Renovation. He also feels it should always remain known as "Annie Lytle", as a tribute to the Lady who once graced it's halls and set a prominent example .
We have to try and we hope we can get the entire community to see this "poster child" of Demolition by TOTAL NEGLECT and help us turn it's course. It is not too late by any means.. We have to make it happen, just as the SOS group is making it happen in Springfield, and may I just mention, doing a TOP NOTCH job of doing so !!!
Saturday Aug. 4th 8 am .. we resume...!!!!!