Mt. Sterling High School
The Mt. Sterling High School is a former school turned assisted living facility, medical office and apartment complex in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky.
The foundation for the Mt. Sterling City School system began with the election of James H. Bean, W.H. Smith, Owen Laughlin, H.R. French, and H.L. Stone as the Board of Trustees in June 1884. 2 Their first meeting was held on July 25 at the “storehouse” Smith owned, and the first six-month school term began on September 8 at the home of Mrs. Nannie K. Hibler, principal of the school.
The property was acquired along Maysville Road in 1889 and the first permanent structure was erected. 1 The three-story building was completed for $15,000. Its first commencement was held in June 1891.
In 1912, the school was expanded with a three-story structure to the immediate south and was connected to the older building by a pedestrian walkway.1 The new building was used for high school students, while the other building remained in use for junior high school students. Elementary and middle school pupils were relocated to the Mapleton School, formerly known as the Mt. Sterling Collegiate Institute on Holt Street.3 4
The Wyatt property on Harrison Avenue was purchased in 1922, and a new addition to the high school was constructed. 1 It included a second-floor auditorium, classroom space, and a gymnasium. It was followed up with a two-story classroom building along Harrison Avenue in 1931.
The original school building from 1889 was razed in 1938 and replaced with a new high school and gymnasium complex that followed the footprint of the old school. 1 It wrapped around the front of the earlier 1912 and 1922 buildings and cost $150,000 to complete.
Mt. Sterling High School closed in 1975 when a new Montgomery County High School opened. 12 The existing building was reused for Miller Middle School until the 1980’s.
Lexington developer Daren Turner purchased the shuttered high school with plans to renovate it for medical offices. 11 Phase I of the project involved gutting the former kitchen for use by Sterling Health Solutions, who intended to use the facility for an 8,600 square-foot clinic. Phase II included selective demolition and the gutting of the remainder of the property for possible use as an assisted living facility.
Turner entered into an agreement with KVC Behavioral Healthcare, a not-for-profit organization that served children with medical and behavioral health care, social services and education, to locate in the former high school. 10
KVC hired lobbyist Shannon Smith to help defeat two bills that would prevent KVC from applying for a Certificate of Need to operate a 50-bed psychiatric facility for youths in the former high school building. 5 In addition, the Kentucky Hospital Association and the Office of Protection and Advocacy challenged the Certificate of Need process, stating that it bypassed a customary review process. 6 The project would create 100 construction jobs and 120 permanent jobs and would fulfill a need for the state, as children in need of such care were being sent out of state for treatment, according to KVC. 5 It cited a report from the Cabinet of Health and Family Services that 229 youths were admitted to out-of-state facilities in 2008. 9 KVC ultimately withdrew its efforts to locate the hospital in the former high school on June 8, 2010 8 to prevent a cost-prohibitive legal process. 6
Governor Beshear backed a plan that would allow the project, and others in the state, to bypass the review process and be granted a Certificate of Need. 9 The plan would allow for as many as eight 50-bed psychiatric hospitals for youths, and the plan was backed by the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
In February 2012, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services approved a Certificate of Need for a Level II Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility for KVC’s Mt. Sterling project, which would contain 24 beds. 7 Under House Bill 231, which created Level II inpatient residential treatment facilities, KVC would be required to provide 24-hour, in-patient treatment and rehabilitation services to children between the ages of 4 and 21 with severe emotional, intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Construction began later in the year to rehabilitate the structure fronting Maysville Road into the 38-unit Sterling Meadows assisted living facility, along with the renovation of the Harrison Avenue structure, dating to 1922, into eight senior apartments. 13 The residential units proposed would range from 400 square-foot studios to 900 square-feet and the auditorium would be repurposed for activities.
An open house for Sterling Meadows was held on March 20, 2014.