The Fort Scott Tribune
The epic saga of the old Fort Scott Middle School building continues as the 90-year-old structure is once again up for sale.
Bolivar, Mo., native James Mayfield, a full-time commercial auctioneer who owns the 42,000-square-foot building located at 412 S. National Ave., said Tuesday that primarily because he does not live in Fort Scott or Bourbon County, he has not been able to devote the time necessary to convert the building into a new business.
"I just realized that I couldn't do what I wanted to do with it, so I've decided just to sell it," Mayfield said. "Of course, if I lived there, it wouldn't be up for sale."
Mayfield purchased the building from USD 234 last June for $45,000, and became the sole proprietor of the building after the sale. His original plan was to convert the building into an antique mall and auction center, and also offer the completed facility to community youth groups or special interest groups in the area.
Last June, the USD 234 Board of Education accepted Mayfield's bid over a $75,000 bid by Connecticut businessman Robert Gbobaniyi, whose contract with the district went into default after Gbobaniyi failed to close on the sale by the scheduled date. Gbobaniyi's plan was to convert the building into a senior citizen housing complex.
Early last year, a few other developers other than Gbobaniyi had taken an interest in the building, but were unable to finalize a contract with the district.
Other various proposals for the building, which has sat vacant since 1999, have been considered over the years, including a recent plan by an Iowa-based research company to move a research laboratory into the building. The building has also been considered as a possible site to house business offices and indoor storage units, but in nearly 10 years, nothing has come to fruition.
Mayfield said he believes it will take a person, group or business outside Fort Scott and Bourbon County to make an investment on the building.
"If a fellow had some ideas, a person could go in there and make some good money," he said. "It's going to take someone outside of Fort Scott with a vision to take an interest in that building."
Portions of the old building are still used for district storage, per Mayfield's contract with the district, while another part is used as a carpentry wood shop. The sale of the building did not include an annexed portion that contains a gymnasium and a district learning center.
Mayfield said the building is still in relatively good condition, and still contains strong walls, good utility systems, and fireproof doors that students and teachers once used to enter and leave classrooms each day during the school year when the building operated as a middle school for 6th-8th grade students.
"I think it's one of the strongest, most secured buildings in Fort Scott," Mayfield said.
The four-story building also features a tower, another gymnasium and an auditorium with stage that Mayfield said he and a crew of workers spent about two weeks remodeling last year, and an elevator. The building also features brand-new aluminum-clad windows and a new lifetime roof that were recently installed. Several tuck pointing and waterproofing projects have also recently taken place on many parts of the building, Mayfield said.
Mayfield added that he is currently accepting offers on the building, and that "any reasonable offer will be considered."
"I'm not trying to make a big profit on it," he said.
Mayfield said anyone who is interested in making an offer on the building may contact him at (417) 298-8888.