The new Minerva France school is inspired by the theme of amusement parks


About 530 students and 40 teachers from schools in the city of Westerville are ready for the trip of a lifetime when the new Minerva France Primary School opens in August.

The elementary school’s name honors a former Westerville student named Minerva France, a black woman who set a precedent in library science and higher education in the 1920s and 1930s.

Many elements of the 65,000 square foot building, however, were carried over from 1895 to 1902, when the Minerva Park Amusement Park was in operation, according to Westerville facilities manager Jeff LeRose.

“There was an entertainment room with minstrel shows and vaudeville acts,” he said. “We took some of the clues from some of the main buildings during this period.”

That’s where the idea for two turrets came from — one at the entrance and one at the end of the building — LeRose said. One of the turrets is a stairwell and the other is part of a classroom.

“There’s a lot of influence in the design of M/I Homes,” he said. “We wanted to complete the neighborhood and integrate it. You will see the exterior with white brick, which you don’t usually see. The look of the exterior not only tries to implement the features of the amusement park, but also the design of the houses. The stone plinth is actually a split-faced block plinth. It looks like the stone plinth of the houses. Again, the lighter brick reflects the lighter colors used on the houses as well as the sloping roof.

The new Minerva France Elementary School, 4990 Farview Drive in Columbus, is expected to accommodate approximately 530 students from schools in the city of Westerville when the school opens in August.

LeRose said a streetcar called the Green Mile once ran between the amusement park and downtown Columbus. He said the school library, named Green Line Learning Station, is a tribute to the railroad station that connected Columbus to the park.

LeRose said the park also features the Scenic Railway Roller Coaster, so the school cafeteria is called the Scenic Railway Café.

A curved hallway is also a nod to the park, said Bob Gibson of Triad Architects.

“The inspiration came from the Minerva Park amusement park,” he said. “They had one of the first roller coasters. The curve came from the roller coaster curve.

During student and staff focus groups, LeRose said, both asked for more natural light in the building.

Edgar Garcia of Magnificent Touch Painting paints along the windows of the new Minerva France Primary School.

“(They asked for) more built-ins, cabinets, just bigger spaces overall,” he said. “As far as children are concerned, they want to see more colors; they wanted to see more natural light; they wanted to see playful spaces. Once we have the colors and the flooring, the fun elements will appear.

LeRose said multiple colors were used inside and outside the building.

“Knowing that kids wanted more colors, we were talking internally with the design team about the Crayola eight-pack — that first set of colors they’re using at this elementary level,” he said. “You will see oranges, reds, yellows, blues and greens. You will see all of this in the building. More high saturation colors are on the back. It’s a little more discreet at the front, more sensitive to neighbors.

Scott Dorne, assistant superintendent of operations for Westerville, said Robertson Construction Services Inc. is the general contractor for the project which has general finishes, painting and flooring underway.

“When we brought teachers on tour, people were interested in coming to work here,” he said. “They were thrilled with the turret room. In general, these classrooms are just amazing in terms of size, light, and storage, which is a big deal. »

Workers lay the floor in the new elementary school library called Green Line Learning Station in homage to a train station that once connected Columbus to the Minerva amusement park.

Dorne said hundreds of candidates from current staff wanted to work at the new school.

“It was just nice to see the interest people from all over the district had in coming here,” he said. “With the realignment we will have schools that will lose students, so some staff will naturally have to go with students somewhere. They didn’t have to come here. What we’ve seen is that staff from all of our elementary schools have expressed interest in coming here. So that’s great. I think people are interested in coming here and doing a good job.

He estimates that the building should be finished by mid-May.

The new school is made possible by a combined $1.95 million bond issue and $5.9 million operating tax that voters approved on November 5, 2019.

The bond issue also provides funding for a new middle school, district-wide safety updates, renovations and additions at Annehurst and Whittier elementary schools, elementary school renovations of Hawthorne and facility needs assessments at Hanby, Emerson and Longfellow elementary schools.

A turret will be above the classroom space at the new Minerva France primary school.

Dorne said work is progressing on the new Minerva Park Collegenamed after the village of Minerva Park, which is named after Franklin County’s first amusement park.

“What you’ll see this summer is the steel going up in a lot of places,” he said. “It’s really interesting to see a perspective on the pitch there. The slope of this property is so huge from the front of the property to the back, where it really decreases. From the back it will look like a 2 story building and you will see both floors. But in the front, you will only see the upper floor because the upper floor will be at ground level at the front of the building. But, wow! When this one comes up, you’ll really like the design. It’s gonna be special.

Westerville South High School

Dorne said Phase 4 of Westerville South High School’s six-phase, $38 million project is underway.

“It’s the first floor of the south university wing of the building,” he said. “Phase 5 is under design and will soon be auctioned – the second floor of the North University Wing. Part of Phase 4 South, probably half the square footage we are looking at, includes the halls science classroom and the media center, which are busy at the moment. We won’t be able to start working on it until the day after school ends. This project continues to be exciting because you can see what it was in a relatively short period of time – about six months what was there – and what it turned into. It really revitalizes your perspective on spaces.

Dorne said the renovation and addition project was funded by a 2009 permanent improvement tax

At Annehurst Elementary School, work is underway on the third Academic Module, which is the last of the pupils’ classroom spaces, he said.

“We’re hoping to get to these the first week of May,” Dorne said. “We will be temporarily moving all of our office and media center workers to these spaces for the last month of school so they can get a head start on the desks.

“It’s actually a lot of complex work for 10 weeks, which we have in the summer. If we can get them another three or four weeks, that will be really good. Operationally, the school will continue to move forward in May, but it will operate from new spaces for a very short time.

Dorne said Hawthorne and Whittier are three-phase projects.

“The difference with Hawthorne and Whittier is that we don’t have swing space,” he said. “Almost all the work has to be done over three summers. This summer we’re looking at all the hard wall changes, and then the following summers we’re looking at the general finishes in each of the spaces. The hard walls of the building are basically expected to be in place in August for how the school is going to operate in the future.

Dorne said these will also be “pretty cool projects” but will be more difficult due to the lack of transitional space, which means no temporary space is available for classes during construction.

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