As Newberry College continues to develop its “living and learning” campus with the City of Newberry, the College completed another historic step forward with the renovation of the Oakland Mill property as residential space for undergraduate students.
The student housing section, which takes up about 40% of the building, was readied for student occupation for the fall semester. The building, located three-tenths of a mile from campus, has 29 brand new units available in two- and four-bedroom suites, as well as meeting rooms, study areas and a game lounge for students. The other 60% of the building, set aside to create non-student apartments, will be completed in 2013.
Built in 1912, the Oakland Mill is historically significant building and part of the City of Newberry's application for the National Register of Historic Places. The geographic region was well established as a center for the textile industry in the Southeast. The renovation, which encompasses a fresh beginning for the surrounding Oakland Mill village, is the culmination of a long process and commitment to preserve the historic structure
Last May, West Electrical Contractors, Inc. purchased the building, which is situated on 16 acres of land in downtown Newberry. Avoiding original plans to demolish the Mill, they worked together with the town, county, school district and Newberry College to submit plans to the National Department of the Interior in Washington, DC, for approval within the guidelines of the National Preservations Act.
Licensed General Contractor Misty West said the plan was originally rejected, since the proposal called for the reinsertion of windows previously filled in. However, the only option to restore the building was for residential purposes, so they finally got approval since the National Building Code requires windows for any living space.
“The city, county and state all took part in retrofitting this beautiful, historically significant structure to meet Preservation standards, said licensed general contractor Misty West. “The College’s involvement was key in this renovation, but this entire project has been a team effort that will ultimately benefit everyone involved, and truly beautify the surrounding area.”
The Mill’s transition to housing served as a catalyst for improving sidewalks, lighting, landscaping, and city street-scaping, in addition to creating walking and biking trails, improving nearby Oakland Park, and remodeling select single family homes in the area. Ultimately, when the project is complete, one-third of the Town of Newberry will be fully redeveloped.
“The Oakland Mill renovation has been a collaborative effort between the College and the community to provide space for students and community members alike,” Newberry College President Dr. V. Scott Koerwer said. “By bringing a historic structure into the future with updates and renovations, we’re investing in our students all while improving the community as a whole.”
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