By Molly Igoe
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College is currently in the process of constructing a new academic building that will replace the old Kent County Board of Edu- cation building on 215 Washington Ave.
The College just received final site approval for the building from the Chestertown Planning Com- mission on Oct. 15. The demolition of the existing building is slated to begin sometime in the spring of 2015, and the tentative date of com- pletion is fall 2016.
The building’s main structure was built in 1915 as Chestertown High School and the wings were later added during World War II, according to an article written by Peter Heck on Sept. 25, 2013 in the Kent County News. It then became Chestertown Elementary School in the 1950s. It was the headquarters of the Kent County Board of Educa- tion from the 1970s until it was sold to the College by the Kent County Commissioners. The Kent County Board of Education is now in Rock Hall, Md.
The Chestertown Historic Com- mission has had a large part in de- ciding the appearance for the new building. According to an article in The Elm written by Elizabeth Ransom on Sept. 15, 2012, the Com- mission wants the new building to blend in with the rest of the town and maintain its character as a part of the historic district. Several com- missioners were also worried about the impact that the building would have on existing neighbors, accord- ing to a Kent County News article written by Heck on Aug. 27, 2013.
Reid Raudenbush, director of the physical plant at the College, outlined the basic renovation pro- cess for the new building. He said, “The plan is to demolish the exist- ing building; permits and reviews are still ongoing. If all final approv- als are received the project would begin in April 2015.”
Another big factor in this reno- vation process is the cost. Rauden- bush estimates that the demolition, site preparation, and construction will cost around $9.5 to $10 million. Chestertown Zoning Admin- istrator Kees de Mooy said, “The construction is planned to be com- pleted by the start of next year’s fall classes, but we also to have to take into account other factors that could prolong the process, like weather.”
Renovation will be completed in two phases: the first phase will in- clude building a 14,000 square-foot building that will replace the exist- ing parking lot. The second phase will include construction of the new 18,600 square-foot academic building, according to an article written by Heck on Oct. 24 in the Kent County News.
“The building will have two lab classrooms, a traditional classroom, and eight offices for faculty. There will also be a conference/seminar room and spaces for student group study. Everyone can expect an at- tractive new building with exten- sive landscaping,” Raudenbush said.
According to Heck’s article, the landscaping will include trees, shrubs, grasses, and possibly an herb garden.
The revitalization of this old building is important to the College and for Chestertown. According to de Mooy, “This is a good proj- ect, because it takes a dilapidated, unused building that will be put to good use for the school. We are try- ing to allow for more walk-ability in the town, so the fact that this build- ing is in an area with little traffic will increase the opportunities for pedestrians and students to walk.”
“The back field will be left open to be used for heating and cooling with geothermal wells, and it is go- ing to be a sustainable, LEED [Lead- ership in Energy and Environmen- tal Design] gold building,” he said. The building will primarily be used for the anthropology department, but will also be utilized by the envi- ronmental science department and various faculty members.
When the renovations are fin- ished, the building is going to be U-shaped with the open-end facing Washington Avenue. The facility will include a parking lot for facul- ty and staff with 19 spaces. The end product is slated to be a traditional, energy-efficient addition that will benefit both the College and the community.