BISBEE, Ariz. (KGUN) — There aren't a lot of buildings in Bisbee that stand as tall as Old Bisbee High School. The three-story, 45,000 square-foot building is currently vacant, but it has a long history.
The building was constructed in 1914 by the miners who worked nearby. It was Bisbee’s first high school that served 450 kids until 1959, when a new, larger school opened. Since then, the building became a library and then an office space for County staff.
“It’s been in our stewardship for the past few decades, and we wanted to give it the next hundred years of its life in a way that benefits the Bisbee community,” said Christine McLachlan with Cochise County Development Services.
In December 2021, the County vacated the building and sent out a request for remodel proposals. A local developer bought it for $900,000 and plans to turn it into a complex with 32 apartments.
“What you see in the area is a lot of old single family historical structures which is nice. But we see this as an opportunity not just to provide housing but to attract a slightly different audience.”
There are still a lot of historical remnants in the building, including the original chalk boards in classrooms and old film from basketball games. A lot of the history lies in what used to be the gym: original flooring, clock, and basketball hoops.
“We do see him keeping some of the old floors, the wide hallways, the transom doorways. Those are indicative of the old high school, and they’re also good for residential.”
Mclachlan says the developer will work with a preservation specialist and plans to keep the exterior of the building the same. The County expects construction to begin next summer.
Perla Shaheen is a reporter for KGUN 9. Perla graduated in May 2020 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in Political Science. Share your story ideas and important issues with Perla by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.