HISTORIC RENOVATIONS AT SOUTHSIDE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COMPLETE

08/13/2007

Recently completed renovations by Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. have allowed the school to retain its Mediterranean revival style, and at the same time, have updated the first Southside School building to meet the needs of modern education. “This has all been fantastic,” said Sharon Marks, Principal of Southside Elementary School. “The Southside community is energized about the improvements.”

After the eight month renovation, students who were re-located to portable classrooms in the previous year can expect to come back to a Southside that looks quite different - just in time for the 2008 school year.

Renovations were carried out over the 38,000 square foot building, and included 20 classrooms, as well as an administrative area, conference room, reception area, school clinic, custodial and storage areas. Old ceilings, flooring, lighting and air conditioning were cleared out and replaced. The entire building was also repainted. In addition, the old courtyard at the center of the historic building complex has been re-landscaped following the renovation.

The original building and courtyard was built in 1926. More classroom and administrative space was added by the construction of two more buildings surrounding the courtyard in the 1950’s. These three buildings formed a square with the courtyard in the middle. The hallways of the buildings were designed with gorgeous arches that overlook the garden.

Willis A. Smith’s relationship with the Southside goes way back. “We built the school’s Media Center nearly 20 year ago,” said John LaCivita, Senior Project Manager for Willis Smith. “And we feel privileged to be allowed to work here again.”

“Southside has served generations of Sarasotans since 1926,” said Marks. “By improving this tradition-rich environment, we will continue to serve the NeXt generation.”

Southside Elementary School was one of the first schools to be built in Sarasota. More than 80 years old now, the school is proud to be a significant part of the community. Many who attended the school are still in the community, and now send their children to the same school.

“Southside is looking as good as or better than I remember it,” said Bruce Sheppard, Superintendent for Willis Smith - a Southside student himself in 1959. Sheppard, whose father also went to school at Southside in 1936, is very proud to be working on his own elementary school.

“Southside is looking as good as or better than I remember it,” said Bruce Sheppard, Superintendent for Willis Smith - a Southside student himself in 1959.

Sheppard, whose father also went to school at Southside in 1936, is very proud to be working on his own elementary school.

“I have fond memories at every corridor,” said Sheppard with a mischievous grin.

This renovation is part of the larger school construction project by Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. The new wing, a 55,000 square foot two-story structure, was completed in January. The largest building on campus consists of 24 classrooms and a 6,500 square foot cafetorium (an auditorium and cafeteria combination). And with the original building renovations completed, Southside is restored to its pristine glory, and is now ready to embrace the children once again.

Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. has a strong reputation in educational construction and renovation in the Sarasota and Manatee areas. Some of our recent projects include the Sarasota High School restoration, Ringling College of Art & Design Student Center, Manatee Community College Graphic Arts Building, Children First, Bayshore Elementary, Prine Elementary, Venice High School and many more.