FAIRMONT – Judy Marshall has lived in some unique places in Marion County.
Her previous home once belonged to the grandparents of Olympic gold medalist and Fairmont native Mary Lou Retton.
“I can just see little Mary Lou doing flip flops in the living room,” Marshall said of Retton, who, at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, was the first ever American woman to win the all-around gold medal in gymnastics.
Today, Marshall calls The Miller School Apartments home. Her apartment, which she shares with her service dog Lacy, is a spacious, well-appointed two-bedroom unit in a building that was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Like most apartments in the building, it has features unique to the school it once was. A blackboard takes up most of the wall in one bedroom. In the other bedroom, an original built-in bookshelf holds several of her trinkets.
“I just love it here,” said Marshall. Not only does she like the building’s charm and character, she likes the overall sense of community. A retired nurse, she can blow off a little steam in the workout room or join her friends in the community room for bible study or to complete a puzzle.
Miller School Apartments was funded, in part, through the West Virginia Housing Development Fund’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program. This program generates low-income residential rental units by encouraging private investment through federal tax credits. Since its inception, LIHTCP has produced more than 15,100 affordable rental units in West Virginia.
Miller School has 26 one-bedroom apartments and 20 two-bedroom apartments for income-eligible people 55 and older. In addition to the community/workout room, the building also features a community kitchen, gymnasium and several gathering areas. The school’s former auditorium was also spruced up and renamed the John E. Martys Auditorium, in honor of longtime housing advocate and former executive director of The Fairmont-Morgantown Housing Authority. There is also an on-site bus shelter and the building is included in the daily routes for the Marion County Transit Authority.
“Once again, we are proud to be part of a team dedicated to breathing new life into an old school,” said Erica Boggess, the Fund’s Executive Director. “This was a challenging project, but the results clearly speak for themselves.”
A number of former schools across the state have been rehabilitated using the tax credit program, said Boggess, including First Ward School in Elkins, Glenwood at Luna Park in Charleston and Sutton School in Sutton.
“Our tenants have given us great feedback and it seems they like it here,” said Lisa Darden, who serves as Sales and Development Coordinator for FMHA, the group managing the development. “Friendships have already been made. It’s a nice, quiet place.”