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Parsons donates building to city

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By April Wright, Reporter

When the City of Galax purchased a property behind the Citgo gas station on Oldtown Street in downtown Galax earlier this year, its intent was to construct a visitors' center.

But since the vacant Parson's building — located across from the Galax Municipal Building on East Grayson Street — is being turned over to the city today, Monday, it is reconsidering the location.

The owner of the building, John Parsons, has decided to donate the building to the city to be used for a worthy cause. When it came time for discussion, Parsons suggested that the old law office be used as the visitors' center, and the city has agreed.

“The Parsons building is in a visible location and near the Rex [theater],” said City Manager Keith Holland. “So after people see a show at the Rex, they can visit the center and find out more information about attractions and lodging.”

The visitors' center will coincide with the $2.6 million downtown revitalization project to fix up storefronts in the historic shopping district.

The project will be complete by the latter part of next year.

Holland said the city will move quickly to put a new roof on the Parsons building and replace storm drains before the end of the year. Even though remodeling of the building is several months away, work should be complete by November 2009, he said.

As as part of the revitalization, Chestnut Creek School of the Arts' main headquarters — located at the old First National Bank in downtown Galax, just around the corner from the soon-to-be visitors' center — will soon undergo remodeling.

CCSA will provide a campus environment throughout the city.

“There's many limitations on the bank building,” said Holland. “It was intended to host classes, such as storytelling and jewelry making, but not for industrial arts.”

That's how the Oldtown location will come in handy. Holland suggests that the facility will be used to host CCSA's industrial classes, like woodworking, metal working and blacksmithing.

The art school has already leased another space on Oldtown Street for use as a pottery studio.