Mayor Hatfield, who attended Fort Gay High School, said the project has been a long time coming for the Wayne County community and for her fellow Fort Gay High School alumni. Fort Gay consolidated with Crum High School to create Tolsia High School in 1987, and the building was used as a middle school.
“I’ve lived here my entire life, and I love the school, and the building,” Hatfield said. “To me, it’s beautiful. This place has so many great memories — not just for myself — for anybody that attended school here and graduated from here has very fond memories of this building.”
Over time, the school fell into disrepair. But even after it closed, the school grounds continued to act as a de facto city center, Hatfield said, where residents host various events and activities.
“This is where everything takes place if there’s anything happening in town,” Hatfield said. “Whether it’s religious groups singing or a church group that wants to have an outing or our Mountain Heritage Day Festival, it’s usually held here.”
Once complete, the old high school building will serve multiple purposes: from apartments on the second floor, to a space for community activities, to town offices, and small business pursuits.
Hatfield said she hopes to see Fort Gay’s alumni association host its future Labor Day alumni weekend events there. Currently, the annual alumni banquet is hosted in the neighboring city of Louisa.
“We want to bring that banquet home,” Hatfield said. “That’s one of our main goals for this building — a commercial kitchen and dining area so we can bring our alumni association home.”