Mathews Architecture

Stephens-Lee Recreation Center

Jane's long history of working on the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center began in 1992, when, with her previous firm, she worked closely with members of the Stephens-Lee Alumni Association to determine how to renovate the old gym to both make it much more functional and to honor the history of the "Castle on the Hill."

Stephens-Lee High School was the only public high school for blacks in Asheville. It opened in 1923 and closed in 1965, when the City began its efforts to integrate all the students, black and white, into one high school. In 1975, the main building was demolished, leaving only the gym.

The first round of improvements included adding an addition with a stair tower and elevator, because there was no internal connection between the floors. People had to use the metal stairs on the outside of the building to get up to the gym on the second story.

Other improvements included refurbishing all interior spaces and making everything ADA-compliant.

To honor the history and significance of the old school building, the design of the new addition included features that harkened back to the design of the original structure.

Twenty years later, it was time to return and update the building.
 
The Stephens-Lee Recreation Center gym, with its refinished floor and updated lighting.
A view of the gym showing the original back wall, in which students scratched their names when it was part of Stephens-Lee High School.
The updated multipurpose room.
The corridor connecting the original gym building with the added elevator and stair tower.
The Stephens-Lee gym in 1993, before the first major renovation.
The updated Recreation Center in 1994 after the renovations and additions were completed.
The gym after the first renovation in 1993.
The multipurpose room after the first renovation.
A historic view of Stephens-Lee High School.