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New school could resemble Jonesborough


Staff Writer

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The upcoming Jonesborough K-8 School won’t just be within Tennessee’s Oldest town — it might look a whole lot like it as well.

At the Wednesday, Oct. 28, Jonesborough School Design Committee meeting, the committee discussed how the look of the school could serve homage to Downtown Jonesborough.

“Your town will be represented in your school,” Jay McCusker with Ken Ross Architects said. “That’s been a running theme. 

Above, Jay McCusker points out a Jonesborough building, which, in part, lended inspiration for the schools building design. (Photos by Marina Waters)

“It’s been really apparent to us that it’s not one particular building or one particular thing (that represents Jonesborough.) It’s a unique place. It’s not just the location it’s in, but the feeling you get when you’re downtown.”

Part of that feeling is comfortability, McCusker said. He also said a combination of colors and various materials such as brick and wood throughout downtown’s construction creates an inviting, walkable space from storefronts on the north end, past the porch of the Chester Inn.

Some of those features will be utilized on the 400-foot long school.

“We are using different materials and we are arranging them in a way that will introduce rhythm and texture,” McCusker said. “It will help break down the sequence and size of this building. 

“This is a big building and we really need to use some of those strategies to where the building doesn’t feel overly large, out of scale or uncomfortable. And we will use a lot of those same strategies as we move on.”

One central part of the school design includes a feature that mirrors that of a central location in downtown — the historic courthouse.

Above, steps that resemble that of the courthouse steps in Downtown Jonesborough could be part of the new school design.

McCusker said steps that reflect that of the courthouse, the “hub of downtown”, could be part of the school’s common area.

“What this space really does is it goes back to those courthouse steps,” McCusker said. “This is where things are going to happen that are important socially for the school.”

Bob Browning, who oversees the school project and the committee on behalf of the Town of Jonesborough, said, the town is still conversing with school officials to see if a common area would be suitable for the new school.

“We will be meeting with a principal or two to discuss whether it’s realistic to create that social space or not,” Browning told the committee. “If the plan is to get kids into a cafeteria, the gym, or into the rooms and not create a social space, we need to make sure we understand how the entrance to the school needs to be used. We are going to do some homework on that.”

The committee also heard an update from Browning regarding the agriculture center planned for the school.

Browning said the town did seek funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, but the grant only funded 10 projects. The next move will involve the state level.

“We are pursuing the state level for assistance on (the agriculture center),” Browning said. “What was encouraging to me was how excited some of the other (local) agencies were to have this kind of facility that is really designed to instruct young kids and even adults after school and on the weekends. It’s really designed for the purpose of teaching gardening and small farming skills.” 

He also said the grading and utilities are included with the overall cost for the project. This way, even if any grants fall through, the school will still receive a site-ready area for the future center.

“The grading and utilities and expenses like that you see in the budget are built in the budget,” Browning said. “I talked to the civil engineer about it and we will grade a spot for the building even if we don’t get the funding. A pad area will be set up. It’s intended to be funded outside of the school system so we are working on that. It has a great deal of potential.”

The next design committee meeting is set for Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 4 p.m.