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Metro Parks Newsroom

Iroquois Park’s Historic Sunnyhill Pavilion To Be Renovated, Restored

Thursday September 10, 2009

Even a collapsed roof can have educational value.

That’s what students from Iroquois High School Magnet Career Academy’s construction technology programs will find out this fall, when they swarm Iroquois Park to put their classroom skills to practical use.

The students will restore the dilapidated Sunnyhill Pavilion in Iroquois Park, through an innovative first-of-its-kind partnership between Jefferson County Public Schools and the city, Mayor Jerry Abramson announced on Thursday.

The yearlong restoration will be a slow and painstaking process, where each small piece of the structure will be evaluated to determine if it can be salvaged or must be replaced. The students will build or assemble any new pieces that must be added to the pavilion.

These students will be far more than a source of free labor, though. To ensure there is appropriate educational worth, the teenagers will also be the primary project managers, with support from professionals at Metro Parks and Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Students will obtain the necessary construction permits, prepare shop drawings, and inspect and approve work performed by their fellow students. Abramson has directed city employees to work closely with the students so the teens learn as much as possible from the experience.

“This project gives these students an opportunity to take part in something that will benefit our community for decades to come,” said Abramson. “More importantly, it will give them a chance to get out of the classroom and put their lessons to use in the field. We hope some of these students will someday be leading improvements in parks and other facilities as construction management professionals.”

The restored pavilion will tie together more than $10 million in recent improvements to Iroquois Park. Future Sunnyhill visitors will be able to look south to see the Iroquois Amphitheater that was restored in 2003, or north to see the Metro Parks system’s best playground and sprayground, completed in 2007.

“Sunnyhill Pavilion represents the rich history of this Olmsted Park, and the students from Iroquois High School represent the bright future of this park,” said Butler, who first proposed the collaboration with the high school. “This partnership is the perfect way to restore our past for enjoyment today and tomorrow.”

The student-led project will restore the pavilion’s original appearance after numerous changes were made to the historic structure over the past several decades.

“The Sunnyhill Pavilion restoration project provides our students the opportunity to engage in an activity that will enhance the community they live in,” said Joey Riddle, the school’s principal. “Our students will learn the historical aspects of the pavilion and Iroquois Park, along with trade techniques utilized during the pavilion’s construction in the 1920s.”

Olmsted Parks Conservancy received a $197,500 grant from Save America’s Treasures for the restoration project. Save America’s Treasures is administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

“Restoration is important part of our mission and we are pleased to have received a Save America’s Treasures grant to restore this pavilion for the community,” said Olmsted Parks Conservancy President/CEO Mimi Zinniel. “And to have students from Iroquois High School be part of the restoration efforts will provide many stories for these young people for years to come.”

Preliminary work took place over the summer to stabilize the existing structure, block off the basement restrooms that were added in the 1950s or 1960s, and fill the deep gouge that had been cut into the hillside to allow restroom access. In 2007, new restrooms that are fully accessible for park users with disabilities were built at the adjacent playground.

A temporary gravel construction driveway was also added over the summer. That driveway will be removed once the project is complete in fall 2010.