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A-B Tech Builds for the Future While Preserving the Past
January 6, 2012
Honoring the past and looking to the future, A-B Tech plans to begin construction this fall of a new state-of-the-art home for its allied health and workforce development programs while preserving an adjacent 76-year-old auditorium, once part of a Catholic boarding school.
The new $55 million facility will allow the college to expand existing programs and add new ones to meet a growing need for well-trained healthcare professionals. The project is part of a $129 million construction campaign funded by a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters Nov. 8.
In preserving the adjacent building that served as an auditorium and gymnasium for St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines School, the college continues a tradition of historic preservation, which includes three historic homes on its Asheville Campus.
Known today as the Ivy Building, the auditorium/gymnasium was designed by Willis Irvin, a noted Southern architect whose designs have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County.
During its days as part of St. Genevieve’s, the building hosted such renowned guests as Helen Keller and Tom Dooley, the humanitarian doctor whose work in Southeast Asia became a model for President Kennedy’s Peace Corps, according to Asheville Citizen-Times columnist Rob Neufeld.
In 1987, when St. Genevieve merged with Asheville Country Day School to become Carolina Day School and moved to a new location, Buncombe County Commissioners purchased Ivy and three other buildings for A-B Tech. Ivy became home to the college’s Decorative Painting and Restoration program until the program ended in 2011.
Initially, college officials questioned whether Ivy would have to be razed to allow for construction of the allied health building and parking. But studies showed the site is large enough to accommodate the new building and adequate parking while leaving Ivy standing.
A-B Tech President Hank Dunn said he is delighted that an important part of the college and the community’s history will remain intact. “The Ivy Building adds to the architectural interest of our campus and complements our three historic homes, Fernihurst, Sunnicrest and the Smith-McDowell House Museum,” Dunn said. “Although we have not determined the use of the building, we do know that it will continue to be part of our heritage, and we are very pleased about that.”