Don Vaughn Jr. is building some of the first new housing in Wichita's Hyde Park neighborhood in a century.
Vaughn and a partner bought the former Kellogg Elementary School near Washington and Kellogg in 2007 after the school district closed it. They are now converting the school into 18 apartments.
Vaughn, owner of heating and cooling contractor Don Vaughn Inc., expects to open the apartments in June.
Kellogg Elementary closed in 2003. When the building opened in 1941, it was lauded for its architectural innovations, such as the fireplace in the kindergarten room that was flanked by the alphabet to foster learning and warmth.
Vaughn said he is doing the project more as a labor of love. He is fascinated by the building's style.
"I don't know what kind of market there will be for this," he said. "I hear people want to move downtown, although it might be too far away."
The neighborhood is now largely commercial, and the building sits close to the Washington Street off-ramp, about a half-mile from Old Town.
Still, the building is a pleasure to work on, he said.
It's generally been an easy project because the old-style classrooms are large with high ceilings. He's had to make a few interesting design decisions, such as converting the girls bathroom into a bedroom.
Vaughn's father, Don Vaughn Sr., former owner of Don Vaughn Inc., bought and renovated the former Martinson and Alcott schools into apartments.
"When you've got a cool building, you feel like you've got to do something with it," he said. "There's not too many classy ones left."