The blue and gold paint, the Jaguar faithful will appreciate.
The new that mixes with the old, it makes for a spectacular example of adapting an historic location to serve future growth.
Huntsville does a lot of things magnificently, and among those is finding really cool things to do with old school buildings. That could include the entertainment center that is Campus No. 805, which was the old Stone Middle School, or the Huntsville West Coworking Community, at the former West Huntsville Elementary School. The old Grissom High has been transformed into the Sandra Moon Complex, with its myriad uses for athletics, culture and a new library.
The former J.O. Johnson High School has joined the list.
Huntsville has celebrated the grand opening of the Johnson Legacy Center, with plans to use the repurposed school as the centerpiece for a mixed-use development, with housing, commercial properties and green space.
The Huntsville Police Department also temporarily uses the Johnson building for its training academy, but that will soon shift to new quarters on Triana Boulevard.
This is not your traditional old high school gym now. Where generations of Johnson students played hoops in P.E. class, there is now a rubberized floor that can hold a variety of sports, including a relative newcomer on the non-traditional-sports scene -- futsal. It’s a five-on-five game that resembles soccer, but uses a foam-filled ball that doesn’t have as much bounce as an inflated soccer ball.
The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau has met with officials from U.S. Futsal, with hopes of attracting a tournament to the location in the near future.
Towering over the gym floor is a 36-foot-high rock climbing wall. Its 19 anchors and various ledges, nooks and crannies will serve beginners, but also provide difficult challenges that will attract advanced climbers.
The climbing wall can also be the site for competitions that attract out-of-town visitors to the community, as well as something to attract Huntsville residents to a new venue.
“There’s nothing in town like it,” said Devyn Keith, the president of the Huntsville City Council and the representative for District One.
Add to the mix a health club, an elaborate exercise room with free weights and machines, saunas in the locker room and a lounge area, and there’s no debating Keith’s claim. Though the Johnson Legacy Center is open to the public, there are levels of membership fees, depending upon the usage.
It’s not just the blue and gold paint that will pay tribute to Johnson’s history. Trophy cases house awards and memorabilia that pay homage to great Jaguar teams and athletes of the past, as well as influential people in the school’s life.
“We’re not just building a building,” Keith said. “We’re changing a community.”