Gatton Academy construction progresses

A construction crew works on new additions to the Gatton Academy, a pre-college boarding school focused on math and science, on Wednesday. Plans include extending two wings and the front entrance as well as interior renovations for additional living and learning space. Leanora Benkato/HERALD

Alyse Young

Construction is under way on the Florence Schneider Hall $10 million, donor-funded renovation and expansion. The building houses students of the Gatton Academy.

Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell said the expansion will benefit high school education in Kentucky.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity for the students of Kentucky,” Russell said. “The expansion is a positive statement for a state that is often seen as not having a good education system.”

Russell said the ability to grow the student population at Gatton is important and was made possible by the building renovation and expansion.

“I think it’s phenomenal … to have such a brilliant pool of students all in one place,” Russell said.

Three additions are being made to the existing building. These will increase the academy’s capacity by 80 students, bringing it from 120 students in fall 2015 to 200 in fall 2016.

Funds for the project came from donors such as Sue and Brown Badgett, Ben and Janine Cundiff, the J. Rogers Badgett Sr. Foundation, Mike and Julie Muscarella, Daksha and Prabodh Mehta and Bill and Sue Hamilton. 

The building is expected to be complete before next fall. The two existing wings of the building as well as its front entrance will be extended towards the Avenue of Champions. This expansion occurs with additional inner renovations that will accommodate the influx of students. The inner expansion will include an increased number of bedrooms as well as a multipurpose room that will accommodate the 200-student capacity.

The building exterior will be made out of Indiana Limestone, and will come from the same quarry as limestone used for Van Meter hall and the Chandler Memorial Chapel, said Frank Ira, general manager at Evans Limestone Company. 

Ira’s family has been in the Indiana limestone business for five generations. Ira said the material is so popular because of its durability. 

“They [Gatton] know that they’re going to get a quality product…a lot of buildings are over 100 years old,” Ira said. 

 Ira said the material itself is also fairly inexpensive and easy to design. 

The stone for the additions has already been cut at Evans Limestone Company in Bedford, Indiana, for the Gatton Academy building because the quarry will be shut down and flooded for the winter to protect uncut stone. 

Steel erection on the building expansion is expected to begin by the beginning of next week. 

Brigid Walters, a Gatton Academy senior from Munfordville, said the building expansion comes with some downfalls for students in the school.

“The old building was really nice,” Walters said.

Walters said she is happy the expansion is happening but also realizes challenges will come with the change.

Walters believes the increase in students will bring about an increase in staff and will change the previous dynamic of the student body.

“It’s going to be hard to keep the Gatton community the same,” Walters said.