Lost but now discovered: The Old Lansing School continues to grow through the Lost Provincial Community’s Center for Cultural Arts
LANSING – With the old Lansing Elementary School proudly located near NC 194, the Lost Province Cultural Arts Center has begun to give way to the building in hopes of something Ashe County has never seen before.
Effective July 1, 2020, LPCCA acquired ownership of both the historic Lansing schoolhouse and the classroom building. Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
LPCCA’s vision is to transform the historic landmark into a mixed-use campus that will serve as a unique showcase in Ashe County for the promotion and preservation of crafts, music and culinary arts.
David Norman, who serves as LPCCA’s chairman and CEO, said the idea of creating such a space in Lansing began about five years ago.
According to Norman, they plan to provide the culinary service and skills required to run a restaurant. There will be a white tablecloth style restaurant in the old schoolhouse where students can showcase their culinary talents. There is also a gallery and a gift shop in the school building, as well as at least 18 studio apartments on the second floor.
Norman said that if they attract tourists and artists to the community, they want to provide shelter for them. It is planned that these apartments will be rented out on short notice, mainly for students and educators as well as tourists. One of the purposes for such a room is to provide housing for students. This is due to the potential of classes such as metalworking, glass blowing, and pottery, which last for several days.
“I want adults to be able to turn their hobbies into jobs that they can earn a living from,” said Norman.
The school building itself, which sits on 3.7 hectares of LPCCA property, has been stripped of previous remains and occupations and exposed with visible stove-burned roofs and wooden structures. Some of the old desks from before the school closed are still there, along with the original intercom. The walls of the classrooms are covered with old wood paneling, which is rarely opened with enclosures. Original doors are standing, now with little use; 118 casement windows remain with aged abseiling and weight systems.
Norman hopes that in addition to the original rustic look, the interior can soon get a touch of mid-century to stay close to the roots of the building. An estimated US $ 6 million is on the table for the restoration of the schoolhouse.
“I want people to fill this room,” said Norman. “I want to fill it with adult learners and artists.”
LPCCA’s goal is not to bring people to school to teach them the arts – it is to teach and bring income to those who have hands on the cultural arts.
“I’m less interested in someone coming in and learning how to make pottery,” said Norman. “I’m more interested in a single mother, a young woman in the region who is really passionate about pottery and wants to learn enough to open a studio and earn an income for herself and her family.”
Through school, students pay tuition fees like any other college, but have the option to work while studying and ultimately pay for their education. Instead of going into debt, they will jump on the stepping stones to further their careers and income.
Norman hopes the Lost Provincial alumni can step out from behind the kitchen stove and create a life where they can use what they learn to improve themselves and their families, instead of falling into an impasse while drowning in student loan debt.
During the restoration process, the board for LPCCA created inspirational images for the appearance of the building.
The classroom building is currently being repainted and renovated for art classes starting this summer. Classes include personal winemaking, pottery, and fiber arts such as weaving and knitting.
Norman expects the project to take 18 to 24 months.
For more information on LPCCA and their efforts in Lansing, please visit the Facebook and Instagram pages @LostProvinceArts or call (336) 620-1107.
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