Lynchburg High is home again after much-needed upgrades

News & Advance LogoAlicia Petska | Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 ♦

Connie Snavely of Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship opens the door Friday for Sandra Davenport to see her newly renovated home in the Lynchburg High Apartment complex.

When Sandra Davenport laid eyes on the new carpeting and gleaming new appliances in her Lynchburg apartment, it was like she had won the lottery.

Sandra Davenport

Connie Snavely of Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship opens the door Friday for Sandra Davenport to see her newly renovated home in the Lynchburg High Apartment complex.

“Oh, wow,” she said, her voice growing from a whisper to a whoop as she took in more and more of the renovations. “Oh, wow! Oh my goodness!”

“I don’t believe this,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “I don’t believe this.”

Davenport, 56, is among a group of tenants at Lynchburg High Apartments who are about to start moving into newly renovated digs.

Lynchburg High, a subsidized housing development run by the nonprofit Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship, is in the midst of an $8.9 million overhaul. Improvements include all new energy-efficient fixtures, central heating and air, additional security measures and brand-new flooring and windows.

“Basically, everything is new,” explained Connie Snavely, associate director for the fellowship.
Lynchburg High, a circa-1911 structure built on the city’s highest hill, was originally a high school. Today, it’s a 70-unit apartment complex serving low-income families, the elderly and the disabled.

This is the first significant renovation the building has undergone since it was converted into housing in the 1970s. The work is being funded with a mix of tax credits, stimulus money and a Virginia Housing Development Authority loan.

Sandra Davenport

Sanda Davenport tears up when taking her first tour Friday of her newly renovated home at the Lynchburg High Apartments.

Snavely said the upgrades, which are being certified by the green building organization EarthCraft, will both cut back on energy costs and improve residents’ overall quality of life.

Simple amenities such as central air and dishwashers were previously unheard-of luxuries within Lynchburg High. New flooring and paint have also given the complex a brighter, fresher feel.

Davenport, who has been living in the building for three years, grew emotional when introduced to her revamped apartment on Friday.

“This is great,” she said tearfully. “… I did not imagine anything like this. I don’t know what I expected, but this was not it.”

Davenport, who is on disability, said she spends most of her time at home, making the renovation particularly significant for her. “I’m a homebody,” she said. “I love being at home. That’s why this is so emotional for me.”

Davenport was temporarily relocated by the fellowship last December along with about 30 other residents whose apartments were part of the first phase of construction.

That phase is now complete, and tenants will be able to start moving back in on Monday. Davenport said she can’t wait.

John Sparrow, Lynchburg High’s facilities manager, couldn’t help but smile when he saw how thrilled Davenport was with her new apartment.

“All we can say is,’ welcome home,’” he told with her a grin.

“All I can say is, thank you very much,” she replied.