Two wooden doors stand on either side of the front entrance of Bryan school district's new administration building.
Though not in use anymore, the doors represent one of the many areas where the building's 81-year history meets the present.
First built in 1937 as Stephen F. Austin High School, the facility on South Ennis Street was repurposed in 1990 as SFA Middle School and now is serving as the district's administration building.
Some of the other areas where people might recognize aspects of the past is in the courtyard-turned-cafeteria that is now the boardroom and the library now being used as the superintendent's suite and head administrative offices.
The public will have a chance to see the renovated building from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday during a come-and-go open house event that will feature an appearance from Bucky the Bronco.
District voters made it possible to repurpose the building for a third time when they voted on a bond package in 2014 that included the $7.9 million project. The administration's move meant more space for the departments to work and plan and also freed up room in the former administrative offices for the district's Special Education department, which moved from the Bryan Collegiate High School campus.
The 2016-2017 school year was the building's final year as a classroom facility, but it was not a quick turnaround to bring the history and the state-of-the-art technology together.
"It had that old building smell; the carpet's outlived its life for 10 years or so. The light was dim and everything. That's what this looked like," Ron Bailey, partner with PBK architecture firm, said. "It was still a great building, though -- the bones, all concrete."
One of the major benefits to the building, he said, was the history it brought. Throughout the planning process, people would remember their days of attending classes in the building, whether as a middle school or high school student.
Talking about the design process, Bailey said, "There was really an attempt to utilize every existing wall we could in order to save money and not spend public money. The existing restrooms are still where they are; they have been completely redone and brought up to handicap accessibility. Classrooms have been turned into offices, multiple offices and things."
Two of those walls used in the redesigned building are brick walls in the boardroom that were once outside as the back of the building.
When the building was first constructed in a W-shape, the back was left open, and when new buildings were added, the space directly behind the main building was left open as a courtyard until it became the cafeteria in 1989.
"When demolition started, [the original exterior walls] began to be revealed again after all these years, and the old wooden frame windows were still there. The wood had been painted many, many times over the years and all. … Rather than just being covered up like originally was intended, now you can really see that history and it's really cool," Bailey said.
The window frames can still be seen, but the original wood had to be wrapped, he said, to cover and enclose the lead paint.
A set of stairs that were once in place leading into the cafeteria when it moved into the space in 1989, but they were removed for space and to allow people to see the original walls again.
"When we first opened it up, it was dusty and all. Now, it's nice and cleaned up and looks like it was almost intentional. It was really neat to see it when it opened up. … That wall's been there since 1937. It's seen a lot," Bailey said.
Superintendent Christie Whitbeck called the exposed brick walls one of her favorite aspects of the redesigned building.
The windows and architecture of Whitbeck's office are original also, though the glass in the windows had to be replaced. She called it "wonderful" to be working in the midst of 81-year history and described it as both beautiful and functional.
"I wish that I could have seen it years ago. I did get to see it as a middle school, but of course not as a high school," she said. "People have a lot of pride. As a matter of fact, I had a set of parents in here just the other day, and they were looking around and remembering, 'Oh this used to be...,' and they could remember their parents going here to high school. I think there's a lot of pride in Bryan for this project and for this building."
When Angie Krolczyk first walked into the building during the redesign, she said, it was gutted and empty, so it was difficult to know what it would become.
"It was just all open space. It was hard to visualize, but it became a beautiful building with the way it was designed and the way it has developed," she said.
This is not the first time Krolczyk has worked in the former classroom building. She began her career with the district working in the curriculum and instruction department when the administrative offices were housed in the basement of SFA High School.
Krolczyk has completed 51 years with the district and this month began her 52nd, working with a total of eight superintendents. As she has seen the district grow, she has served in the curriculum and instruction, human resources, payroll and now finance departments.
"I love working with the district. I'm a Bryanite, and Bryan is my home, and I take pride in our school district, and it's great to be a part of that school district and being able to give back to the community," she said.
A 1964 graduate of SFA High School, Krolczyk said, the finished product does not seem like the same school without the lockers, but she still looks for where her classes were and thinks of the memories she made with her friends during her high school years.
Her desk in the finance department sits in what was once the science wing.
Her favorite spot, though, was the band hall, she said, noting she played clarinet.
"Nothing beats band trips. Even at the games, I go to the football games now, and I watch the bands. They have a special place in my heart," she said.
There were no original plans when Bailey and PBK began the research and design process, so much of the information came from yearbooks, dating back to the 1930s.
A tiered hallway was a tip-off to identify the location of the auditorium, original in 1937, that was converted in the 1980s into classroom space. It is a minor aspect, but the original tiered walkway is district spokesman Matthew LeBlanc's favorite part of the building. A gymnasium was also on one of the wings but was also converted in the 1980s.
"It's just a cool way of continuing to reuse the same square footage over and over," he said.