The Stephens-Lee Recreation Center reopened on Saturday, June 6, after five months of renovations. A crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting and a tour of the new facility. The tour showcased the work that was put into the building, including newly painted walls, new furniture and a nearly completed renovation of the gymnasium.
Built in 1923, the recreation center was originally part of Stephens-Lee High School, once the only secondary school for African-Americans in Western North Carolina. The school was closed in 1965 as part of desegregation.
Ryan Seymour, center director at Stephens-Lee, said the gymnasium was the most dramatic part of the renovation. The floors were replaced, the walls were repainted and the lighting was switched out. The floors are now made of maple that bounces light around the room. However, one thing stayed the same through the renovation: A “memory wall,” featuring signatures from the highschool’s alumni, is still in place.
Seymour adds that one project is still in the works: Stephens-Lee will soon hold a museum-style room to honor alumni, featuring trophies, photographs and more.
This summer the center will hold summer camps along with breakdancing classes with local dance troupe Underdog Crew and games including “Power Mix” and pickleball. The center also offers yearlong gym memberships.
The center was closed for renovation in December 2014, and according to the city of Asheville, the total cost of the restoration was $30,000. Stephens-Lee Recreation Center is located at 30 George Washington Carver Ave.
Can’t see this slideshow on your mobile device? Click here.