Restoration progress being made on Christiansburg Insititute building

Phase One of the restoration/renovation of the Edgar A. Long Building is nearly complete. The next phase will focus on the building’s 52 windows and its doors.

Only two percent of the 95,000 entries on the National Register of Historic Places focus on the experience of African-Americans. Christiansburg’s Edgar A. Long Building is one entry among that two percent.

Tuesday night the Christiansburg Town Council heard a report from Chris Sanchez, Debbie Sherman-Lee and Mary Schnitzer on the progress of the restoration and renovation of the Long building. Sanchez is the Executive Director of Christiansburg Institute Inc. (CII); Sherman-Lee is the chair of CII’s Board of Directors; Schnitzer is the board’s vice chair. Christiansburg Institute, Inc., is engaged in raising capital funds to preserve and restore the building.

Built in 1927 in the Georgian Revival-style, the Edgar A. Long Building is a three-story cube shaped brick structure and more than 9,000 square feet of usable space. CII’s vision for the Long Building is of a restored and operational building operating as a functioning community gathering space and dynamic intergenerational learning space serving the diverse communities across the New River Valley.

The building was named after Edgar Allen Long, the principal of the Christiansburg Institute from 1906-1924. Of the original 14 educational buildings that once stood on the institute’s former 185-acre campus, the E.A.L. building stands at 140 Scattergood Drive in Christiansburg as the last surviving structure and is the only one named after an African-American in Southwestern Virginia.

The council heard that phase one of the renovation and restoration of the Long building is nearly complete. A new roof has been completed and a new fully reinforced subfloor for the attic is in place. New trim and fascia have been completed, and a new gutter system has been installed.

The goal of the work has been to restore the building to its original historic appearance. Two non-original dormers were demolished during the first phase to regain the building’s original profile.

Sanchez told the council that the old roof had seven layers of shingles whereas current codes limit roofs to no more than two layers. The roof was so heavy that it had rendered the entire building unstable.

A revised funding request of $15,000 for Fiscal Year 2020-21 for the next phase of the restoration was presented to the town council. The money will be used to focus on three key areas: $8,800 for historic preservation including repairing and replacing the building’s 52 windows and updating the building’s electrical system; $5,000 for visoning the project through a competitive bidding process that will allow for a hard cost for the construction, which will in turn provide the goal for fundraising; and $1,200 for enhanced security. As was pointed out, the building has repeatedly been vandalized over the years, and it now has that a $200,000 roof. The $1,200 will be used for surveillance cameras and other updated security devices to protect the investment that has been made.

A report to the council on CII’s fundraising efforts showed that $197,247 has been raised with 85 percent coming from the local governments of Montgomery County and the towns of Christiansburg and Blacksburg. The remaining 15 percent has come from private donors, including $5,000 from The Secular Society, $12,000 from the 100+ Women Who Care, and a donation from the Montgomery County Retired Teachers Association. In all, 68 donors have given to the project to restore and preserve the Long Building.






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