By Chrissy Murphy for The News Herald
On a small hillside toward the back of the North Carolina School for the Deaf campus in Morganton, Jeter Hall was filled with cutting-edge technology when it first opened in 1971.
But a few years ago, the building changed ownership to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to be used as part of the school’s Morganton campus.
As plans for development at the school were created, so did desired uses for Jeter Hall. Original plans had it tapped to be used as storage. Judy Teele, a descendant of the Jeter family for whom the building was named, thought for a while the building could end up being demolished to make way for something new.
Fate, though, had different plans.
NCSSM Chancellor Todd Roberts said it was delays to renovations at Joiner Hall that caused a change of plans.
Instead of becoming a storage unit, Jeter Hall received a renovation of its own – bringing back the cutting-edge technology it once was known for as contractors focused on the building over the last year.
“It’s sort of like a phoenix rising from the ashes,” Teele said. “I really thought that the building was going to be demolished. I really didn’t see a way forward at first.”
The building will now house the fine arts programs permanently and has become a temporary home for student counseling services.
“This is, I think, a great way to carry out the legacy of a forward-thinking institution and a forward-thinking building into its history,” Roberts said.
NCSD and Burke County Public Schools originally partnered to offer programs in Jeter Hall when the building opened in 1971.
NCSSM, which now has ownership of the school, has continued that partnership with BCPS to offer STEAM Academy classes in the building.
“They’ve been just tremendous partners for us here,” Roberts said.
Kevin Baxter, vice chancellor and chief campus officer at NCSSM-Morganton, said Jeter Hall was the last building of the school’s originally contracted construction projects to open.
“It is amazing,” Teele said. “Not only is it really, the building now, very visually appealing, but the first thing that struck me was all the new furnishings and the musical suites … I am really happy that it will be designated particularly for the arts because that, for me, is sort of the gentler side of the standard curriculum. It’s such a wonderful mix with a school that’s dedicated to science and math in particular.”
“I think my Aunt Nan (Jeter) and grandmother would be so pleased, so pleased.”
Monday marked the first day of classes in the newly renovated building, Baxter said.
“We are excited that the fine arts program is ready to deliver right here in Jeter Hall, that our counseling team is making really impressive use of some long term music practice rooms, and also that our facilities team finally has a place that we can use to store some incredibly important campus artifacts and some of our programming,” Baxter said.