ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene city council members have approved a $41.5 million project to turn the old Lincoln Middle School into a library, coffee shop, event center, and more.
Abilene Heritage Square received official approval Thursday night to begin redeveloping the historic campus, which also once served as Abilene High School.
$32.5 million and a $1.5 million endowment has already been raised by donations from the private and philanthropic sectors toward funding this project, which will take an estimated 3.5 years to complete.
The remaining funds will also be secured by donations and grants from private entities. No taxpayer money will be used for the redevelopment project.
Project managers expect the redeveloped building will be open in time for its centennial celebration in 2023-2024.
The following features will be available to the community as part of Abilene Heritage Square once the project is complete:
• A state-of-the-art public library, making use of both the historic structures and newly constructed facilities.
• The renovated 700-seat auditorium suitable for meetings, speakers, recitals, concerts and weddings.
• An exhibit hall for both local and touring exhibits from major museums and galleries.
• New satellite location for The Grace Museum, including additional programming space and a second Children’s Museum with a science focus.
• The renovated and highly versatile Eagle’s Nest gymnasium. It will be able to host events as varied as a square dance, civic club luncheon, craft show, family reunions, yoga classes, industrial exhibits, or wedding dinners. The facility will include a catering kitchen that allows catering service for up to 400 people seated at tables.
• A coffee shop adjacent to the library that can be accessed outside library operating hours.
• Classrooms for the Stone Owl Academy, a program in which high school juniors and seniors can learn of constitutional principles and free-market economics while earning the Stone Owl Scholar designation and scholarship.
• The “Lawn at the Square” suitable for outdoor concerts, festivals, and special events.
“The project to bring new life to these historic buildings began as an idea among a group of Abilene residents concerned over the fate of the old school.,” a press release states.
These volunteers, now known as non-profit Abilene Heritage Square, Inc., will be holding a press conference Friday morning to give more information on the redevelopment project.
BigCountryHomepage.com will stream that press conference LIVE at 11:30 a.m.
Just follow this link to watch!