Yoakum school district brings new life to former funeral home building

Sonny Long

Jan. 10, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 9, 2012 at 7:10 p.m.

An outlined space in the storage area in Yoakum school district's administrative office is the only reminder that the area once housed an embalming room.

An outlined space in the storage area in Yoakum school district's administrative office is the only reminder that the area once housed an embalming room.

YOAKUM - The Yoakum school district has brought new life to an empty building in town.

It just so happens that the building used to be a funeral home.

The school district administrative offices began the move on Dec. 15 to the former Buffington Funeral Home at 315 E. Gonzales St. Buffington, which closed in Yoakum in 2007.

The former school offices were built in the 1950s and will be adapted for use by the district's technology department.

The 10,800 square foot former funeral home gives the administrative office's nine employees much more room. The old office has 3,600 square feet.

"We had five employees sharing one room at the old office," said Chris Kvinta, assistant superintendent. "This provides much more privacy, especially when dealing with things like insurance and other personnel matters."

"It was kind of like telemarketers in the back of the old building," said Superintendent Tom Kelley. "We were just running out of room and it wasn't fair to people who needed to discuss confidential matters."

The employees said they are pleased with the new accommodations.

"It's great to have so much room," said receptionist Cindy Gasch, whose desk overlooks the spacious foyer at the entrance.

The new office also has much more storage space, including a warehouse area that once contained the embalming room. The outline of the embalming room remains visible on the floor of the room.

The new space was gutted for renovation, Kvinta said. Some additional windows also were added. The new offices are also ADA compliant.

The old office had a vault which unveiled some old documents and ledgers that will eventually be displayed at the front of the new location.

"There are some records we have to keep forever," said Kvinta. "We're still trying to sort through things and get it all moved in."

A map room is a new addition to the new administrative offices.

Maps showing old construction or renovation plans will be stored in a specially designed cabinet along the map room wall.

"When we needed to see old plans, we basically had to dig through boxes to find them. This is a long term project. It will take a while to get it organized," said Kvinta.

The new board room also has been modernized with an overhead projector and a drop-down screen for presentations.

And a multi-purpose classroom is part of the renovated administration office.

Another discovery in the vault was an inscribed block of granite presented to the school board by the Mothers Club in 1909. The granite had been in the back of the vault for an unknown number of years.

It, too, will be displayed prominently in the foyer area of the new location, Kelley said.

Kvinta added that only one employee expressed any reservations about moving into a former funeral home.

"She was a little hesitant about coming over, but she's here," Kvinta said. "The subcontractors had a few stories about stuff they thought they heard or thought they saw."



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