This Saturday and Sunday, former students of the former Burlington High School will have a chance to walk its halls again when its doors open for public tours.
After hosting an Airsoft tournament in the Apollo building last weekend, the shuttered school's new developer, Brian Anderson, is opening its doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for ages 8 to 17 and free for children younger than 8.
However, there likely won't be as many children in the school as there once was. While hallways are clear of debris and broken glass, Anderson warns years of inactivity have left shocking images and words on the building's old walls.
Since the building fully closed in 2001 and the last bits of life abandoned the historic structure, vandals, squatters and exploring teenagers have had their way with the building. Graffiti covers many of the walls, and it won't be covered up during tours. Sensitive parents may want to leave their children behind.
Guides will be stationed throughout the building to watch as visitors explore. They'll stop wanderers from accessing some more dangerous spots.
"We're trying to get people of knowledge to serve as guides," Anderson said. "Former students will hopefully be able to share their information."
Most of the building will be open on the tours, he said. The central auditorium was closed off for the Airsoft tournament, but it will be open this weekend. The skylight has caved in, lending the room an odd brightness and a sense of destruction. The roof will be off-limits.
Visitors will have to sign a liability waiver to be allowed inside.
Money from the tours, Anderson said, will be used for roofing work and window installation. He signed a contract ordering the Windows Wednesday, he said.
He isn't sure how many people to expect. It could be 50, it could be several hundred, Anderson guessed.
"We're prepared for however many show up," he said.
Anderson expects to have the first condo in the building complete in early 2018. He'll use that as a model to pitch and sell more apartments and condos.
The end goal is to turn the building into a mixture of commercial spaces, high-end apartments and condos.
Anderson bought the building from the city of Burlington for $100,000 after several failed development pitches over the years. The Burlington City Council selected his plan over a push for low-income housing. The school was built in 1910 to replace the original Burlington High School, and rechristened Apollo upon the 1969 opening of the present-day BHS building. It served as a ninth-grade attendance center, then a middle school and finally as home to Burlington's alternative school program and headquarters of Great River Area Education Agency before being closed in 2001 when the AEA relocated.
More information on the tours can be found by calling Anderson at (630) 989-8800.