Lee School Demolition Begins as Leesburg Prepares for New Housing Project

1.5 min read| Published On: May 8th, 2024|

By Cindy Peterson

Lee School Demolition Begins as Leesburg Prepares for New Housing Project

1.5 min read| Published On: May 8th, 2024|

Demolition has begun on the historic Lee School site in downtown Leesburg, marking a significant progression in the redevelopment project led by local developer Barry Mansfield. This development comes after a series of reassessments and planning adjustments addressing various challenges including the structural integrity of the existing buildings and local infrastructure concerns.

Originally intended for renovation, the Lee School has faced numerous hurdles that made preservation unfeasible. “The old historic buildings are in disrepair,” City Manager Al Minner says. “And the historic board did give a conditional demolition order for those buildings tied to development. But you know, for various different reasons, development hasn’t occurred.”

The latest project updated proposed to transform the location into a residential area with the construction of upscale apartment complexes inspired by a successful similar project in downtown Ocala. The new development aims to include 104 units across four stories, offering one to three-bedroom apartments tailored to attract professionals and enhance downtown foot traffic.

Please note, the project is expected to undergo further review and modification to refine details and address any additional concerns before receiving final approval from city planning and zoning authorities as well as the historic board.

Built in 1915, The Lee School began as an educational institution for children from elementary to high school. Over the years it became a center for struggling students and later, adult education. On February 17, 1995, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Ultimately, it closed its doors in 2003. It then began to face significant challenges, becoming a target for vandalism, homelessness, and became a frequent spot for police calls. However, the abandoned feel gave it some attention as it was used as a filming location for the horror movie “The Mad Hatter.”

But the Lee School holds sentimental value within the community. Despite the best intentions to save and repurpose the historic building, structural and financial challenges have led to the decision to demolish the old school to make way for new developments.

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About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography, and video editing. She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and produces Style Magazine's Sports Hub Podcast and the Healthy Living Podcast. She also produces for Beacon College’s Telly Award-winning PBS show, “A World of Difference.” When she isn’t working, Cindy loves traveling the National Parks with her husband , Ryan, and son, David, photographing wildlife.

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