Historic Central School reopens after hurricane repairs

Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 7:14 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Rebuilding Lake Charles while preserving its historic buildings was a priority after the 2020 storms, and one of those buildings, the old Central School, is now back open.

The reopening was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning as a piece of history is restored.

“My history personally is yes I was a student here and my father was principal and I also taught here in the same room where I had been in the first grade,” Annette Ballard said.

With generations of her family holding ties to the school, Ballard said she’s excited to see the 1912 building still in use today, now managed by the Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA.

“It really makes you feel part of a larger story and we are part of a larger story and we are creating it as we go,” Shawna Batchelor, executive director of the Arts and Humanities Council, said. “I just love that the city has put such a value on the arts and humanities. A lot of places don’t have anything like that.”

Not only is the building being preserved, it’s another sign of moving forward following the 2020 hurricanes.

“Damage to the roof, the HVAC system, the interior of the building,” Mayor Nic Hunter listed the damages to the building at the ceremony.

While most of the repairs to the building are complete, work is still underway in the auditorium which is expected to be done in the fall.

Soon the building’s performing arts occupants will take the stage at central school once again. Meantime, classrooms will continue to provide a space for all minds to express their creativity.

“It is giving our young people an opportunity to explore and discover and give us new ideas which is wonderful,” Ballard said.

Ballard is also a board member of the Friends of Central Classroom. The organization donated approximately $14,600 to the historic building.

There are still spaces available for more tenants at the central school and if you’re interested you can reach out to the Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA.