From 1908 until 1975, the halls of the Oconee Street School building bustled with children. Now, Athens locals get to see the beloved historic building serve the community once again as the office of Athens Injury Law, who partnered with Grahl Construction Co. to revive the abandoned building.
The Beginnings of Oconee Street Primary School
The Athens City School Board began construction of the Oconee Street Primary School building in 1908, which was the first permanent location for the elementary school. The building was completed in only 10 months with a total budget of only $12,000!
By 1921, the building housed grades first through sixth. The original sixth grade graduation was held in 1923 with only 16 students in attendance. For the next 50 years, thousands of Athens’ elementary students passed through the halls of the building. As the city of Athens boomed alongside the growth of UGA, the school eventually outgrew the building. It was officially closed in 1975.
A Piece of History
For years after its closure, the Oconee Street School building remained deserted. The run-down property attracted obscene graffiti and acted solely as an eyesore for the surrounding area. Proposed plans for the building ranged from converting it to student housing to demolition. Thankfully, the historic building was saved.
In 2018, the National Register of Historic Places listed the Oconee Street School. This not only documented the building’s significance but also protected it from possible destruction.
A New Life for the Historic Building
After almost 50 years of vacancy, the Oconee Street School building needed a lot more than a fresh coat of paint. In 2020, Athens Injury Law partnered with Grahl Construction to revitalize the property. According to Tim Hall, the founding attorney at Athens Injury Law:
“Our goal was to maintain the building’s historical integrity as much as possible. In doing so, we restored the main staircase, converted classrooms into conference rooms, and left a few relics from its schoolhouse days, including an original chalk board in one of the conference rooms.”
The original classroom (complete with the restored chalkboard) now serves as the conference room where injury lawyers at Athens Injury Law meet with potential clients who have been injured in car and truck accidents.
Many members of the Athens community have voiced their support of the new life given to the building. “We have had many injured clients who enter the building and begin to tell us stories of their time spent here as elementary students, pointing out where the principal’s office was located or the old restrooms. We even had one elderly gentlemen show us where he kissed his first girl! It’s nice to know we revived something that means so much to so many in Athens,” said Mr. Hall.
Another client shared with us that he was a student here and vividly remembered Mr. Ivory Jones, a long time beloved custodian at the Oconee Street School. He said “Mr. Jones could recite the alphabet backwards faster than anyone could do it forwards, and the kids were always begging him to do it.”
A Bright Future
Suited with many of its original structures, the property now stands in pristine condition. In addition to Athens Injury Law, the Oconee Street School building is home to Grahl Construction & Athens Personal Fitness. The plaster wall building that once fostered the education of Athens’ youth is now arguably the finest and most unique office building in Athens, Georgia.
At Athens Injury Law, we are thrilled to continue the legacy of this historic building by providing our personal injury clients with a state of the art facility, where their injury claim is handled by the best injury attorneys and paralegals in Athens. If you have been injured in a car or truck accident, come see us for a free consultation and a tour of a truly iconic building.