Old High School to become a senior living center

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT)-- Imagine living in the same place that you previously went to school. Residents of the Oakwood Senior Living Center are living in a former elementary school. Knoxville High School is soon to be a living center for senior citizens.

"Senior living is something that our community needs, but it needs to be done in an authentic Knoxville way," said Rick Dover, General Manager of Dover Development Corporation in Knoxville. "This means we need to preserve and redevelop existing historic buildings."

Knoxville High School was originally built in 1910 and the last class that graduated from there was in 1951. The school board used the building as office space since closing, but it has become obsolete given it's age, according to Dover.

Dover said that the living center will have 90 apartments and will create 35 full-time jobs. The Center will also have a bar, restaurant, a wellness center and fitness center.

"It will include memorabilia from the old high school but will also have many luxuries and will be kind of like living on a cruise ship," said Dover.

Dover said that the building will be restored on the inside but there won’t be many changes to the outside of the building other than some window replacements. All of the original door ways in the halls will be kept. The class rooms that are being adjusted to make apartments are 600 to 700 square feet each.

"Because the county kept the building in such good shape, the bones of that building are in such good shape for 116-years-old," said Dover.

Amy Wise is the executive director of Oakwood Senior Living, She went to elementary school at Oakwood Elementary and now works in the same building that she once learned to read and write.

"It was a hard experience in the beginning. The first time I toured the building I cried," said Wise. "But now I see it as not my teachers old classrooms but the residents homes."

Wise said that they were able to restore things from the school like the gym floor and the classroom doors.

"It is a very interesting place to live. It's a long walk to the lunchroom but it's a lovely travel," said Patricia Anderson. "It has become a very lovely place and we have great caregivers that take good care of us."