We’re probably quite a ways from seeing a detailed proposal, but we’re excited about the possibility that the Central Building on the Baker Middle School campus will be renovated.
A Portland concert pianist, Hunter Noack, is interested in buying the 100-year-old building at Washington Avenue and Fifth street. The Baker School District, which owns the Central Building, moved all middle school students into the nearby Helen M. Stack in 2009.
The Baker City Council voted last week to accept a $5,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to study potential uses for the building. Noack will supply a $12,000 match for the grant.
School board member Andrew Bryan said Noack, who has talked with district officials about the building, broached the possibility of turning it into a performing arts center.
That’s an intriguing proposal for a building that was the site of untold numbers of student concerts since it opened in 1917 as Baker High School (it served as the high school until 1952).
The school district designated the Central Building as surplus property in 2009 and although it has been for sale since, the district has not been close to making a deal.
Noack’s interest seems to be the most significant since the building was closed, and we hope school district officials continue to work with him.
Rejuvenating the Central Building would be a major project for Baker City, which has an admirable record of preserving many of its more noteworthy structures.
The Central Building certainly qualifies.
In 2011 the Historic Preservation League of Oregon added the Central Building to its list of the state’s Most Endangered Places. The building was designed by architect Ellis F. Lawrence, the first dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Oregon.
From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of publisher Kari Borgen, editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.