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Former Garfield Elementary students reminisce on renovation tour

MOLINE, Illinois -- Construction is underway to turn a former elementary school into apartments for low-income seniors.

Garfield School on 25th Avenue, was built in 1901; an addition came along in 1955. The school closed in 2015 and coming in 2019, a housing facility.

A groundbreaking was held Wednesday, June 20.

"We're taking an old building and giving it new bones and giving it a new purpose to house the aging population," said Gorman & Company President and CEO, Brian Swanton.

The developer - Gorman and Company - has also completed several other projects in Moline.

Former students and community members were invited to tour the inside as the renovation was underway.  One of the attendees was Willie McAdams, who attended the school in the 1930s.

He reminisced about playing kickball in the yard and laughed about the good times.

"I've got thousands of memories," said McAdams.

Two other former students on the tour were Pam Wendt and Ann Showalter.  They met in fifth grade in the late 1950s and have been best friends ever since.  The ladies said the secret to their lifelong friendship is laughter.

Both busted out into laughter when Ann said, "the first day of school (Pam) got in trouble for talking too much."

The school's classrooms are being transformed into 57 apartment units.  The former gymnasium is going to be a common area, including a multi-purpose room, kitchen and fitness center. Workers are also planning to build a three-story addition on the building's east side.

Swanton said Gorman & Company has repurposed about 25 other former schools.

The renovation is expected to be complete by spring of 2019, that's when residents can start moving in.  Leasing will begin in February.

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