BEDFORD, Va. – There was a major update in the redevelopment of the old Bedford Middle School Thursday, more than two years after an act of arson ripped through the building.
They installed the cupola on the roof — but the white tower, copper dome and spire are much more than a part of the construction.
It is symbolic of what the town went through — and what is to come.
Former students, like Tracie Gordon, gathered as a crane daggled the structure, then crews secured it atop the building.
“It’s been a staple to the community for years,” said Gordon.
That staple turned to soot in January 2020, when a fire tore through the building.
“I was here the day it was burning, stood right out there crying with everybody else,” said Glenda Stanley, who also attended the school as a child.
Stanley is part of three generations of her family to attend, along with her son and 83-year-old father.
“You have memories of just walking the halls and where different rooms were and what teacher you had here and there,” said Stanley.
Waukeshaw Development Inc. is behind the $17 million projects, including 60 apartments inside the middle school and converting the neighboring, original school into 30 hotel rooms.
“Working in this town, we’ve gotten to know tons of people; and we’ve, frankly, been entrusted with this,” said Dave McCormack, president of Waukeshaw Development Inc.
What was once a home to generations of students and educators, will soon house more Bedford residents.
First responders who fought the flames and saved the façade were on-hand to watch the cupola rise.
From ashes of the arson to the resurrection of a building — and community.
“It’s just amazing what this developer is doing for the school and bringing it back to life,” said Gordon.
“It might be different on the inside, but it’s going to look the same on the outside; and so for us driving by every day, I’m glad to see that,” said Stanley.
Waukeshaw Development Inc. expects to complete the project by spring 2023.
Daniel Flint, the man charged with arson and pleaded guilty, is still awaiting sentencing.