Developer Buys, Plans Renovations for Old Ferrum School House


Photo by Abigail McGovern

Developer Philip Bane recently purchased the old Ferrum School. Bane plans to renovate the building into a 15-room hotel.

By Abigail McGovern, Staff Writer

An old stone building stands proud on the side of the road. The wind clatters through the branches of the trees around it, whispering of the past. Weathered but resolute, it withstands the test of time and the elements. Looking at the building, one walks in the footsteps of ghosts, learning lessons from the past. 

The Old Ferrum School House is a piece of the community and a reminder of Ferrum’s history, connecting the present with the town’s past lives. Though it now stands abandoned behind the firehouse, the building was put up for sale and has been purchased by a buyer who intends to revitalize it. 

According to Ferrum’s Vice President for Business and Finance, Barbara Hatcher, the school building was bought by Philip Bane, a developer, for $20,000. Until Bane expressed interest in the building, the fate of the school house was uncertain.

“Due to the age of the building and deterioration, there were many unknowns that actually brought into question if the property was an asset or a liability,” said Hatcher. “The book value of the property was $11, 350, so we had a slight gain on the sale of the property.”

Bane has been redeveloping properties since 1990 and owns properties in Virginia and Florida. When he purchased the school house, he was already familiar with the Ferrum area, as he also owns and is currently renovating the Morris Furniture and Curves buildings on the corner of Franklin Street and Claiborne Avenue. Upon seeing the school house, Bane knew it had potential.

“I saw the building when I was driving,” he said of the school house. “I love redeveloping older buildings, especially ones that have a strong, local significance.”

His plan for the school house is to convert it into a 15-room hotel, recognizing the need for short-term lodging in Ferrum. Currently, the closest hotels are in Rocky Mount, about 10 miles away from Ferrum. Bane hopes construction will start either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. 

“What Roanoke College is to Salem, I believe that Ferrum College can be to the Village of Ferrum,” said Bane. “I am looking forward to completing this project and hope there are future opportunities to work with Ferrum College in moving Ferrum Village to its full potential.”

Other members of Ferrum and surrounding communities also see the value of renovating a historical building and hope this sale will increase Ferrum’s sense of community. 

“I was impressed with the renovations that he was making to that (Morris) building and encouraged about his investment in that property,” said Hatcher regarding the sale. “We thought that the restoration of the building could be a start in the revitalization of the Ferrum community.”

The school house renovation, and Bane’s other projects, also have positive implications for the economy and growth of the Ferrum and neighboring towns.

“The Town of Rocky Mount welcomes anyone who wants to invest in the town and our area,” said Rocky Mount Mayor Steve Angle. “I hope that he is successful in both Rocky Mount and Ferrum and that the developments spur good growth and commerce.”

The Old Ferrum School House stands as a reminder of the community’s past era, but it also is a symbol of the new directions Ferrum could go and the connections that can be made between community members of the past and the future. 

Bane hopes that construction will only take six months from the time the renovation starts, and while it waits, the Ferrum community looks to the future.