To some, the Packard Annex probably looks like what it is -- a musty, abandoned school building strewn with broken glass and old textbooks. The only "art" inside the building is the graffiti painted on the walls by adolescents who are probably upstanding adults by now.

To some, the Packard Annex probably looks like what it is -- a musty, abandoned school building strewn with broken glass and old textbooks. The only "art" inside the building is the graffiti painted on the walls by adolescents who are probably upstanding adults by now.

But to the dozen or so arts supporters who toured the Annex last Friday afternoon, the building looks less like a nightmare and more like a dream about to come true.

"It is an excellent facility," said Worthington City Council member Bonnie Michael. "It has a historic feel, yet it will have a breath of new life in it."

Michael was one of the members of the original planning committee that proposed an arts center for Worthington nearly a decade ago.

Sometime in the next few weeks, crews will move into the building to rid it of hazardous materials. Then, probably in early summer, construction will begin to transform the former school building into the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington.

The tour last week offered a last peek inside before work begins.

The building was designed by well-known architect Frank Packard and opened as Worthington High School in 1916. It was used as classroom and offices until about 15 years ago.

Outside, the building at the corner of West Granville Road and Evening Street is weed-covered and shabby. Windows are broken and boarded up, concrete is crumbling.

Inside, the main room is an auditorium covered in blue indoor-outdoor carpeting with a well-worn, black-painted stage.

The basement is dark and still decorated for the Halloween haunted houses that were held there in the 1990s.

Classrooms throughout the building still have messages written on blackboards, and one must step gingerly among bits of glass and fallen plaster, discarded textbooks and notebook paper.

Still, the basic building is solid, according to architects who led the tour. And the possibilities are there.

"This building is huge inside, the rooms are just wonderful," said Nancy Goorey. "It is an amazing structure."

Goorey is the chair of the arts center fundraising committee.

Architect and Worthington Arts Council volunteer Mick Ball led the tour, pointing out features that will be restored, including some wood floors.

The windows on the front of the building will be replaced with small-paned windows resembling those on the original building.

The theater will feature a lowered stage, risers, and a technical booth.

The sunny rooms on the second floor will be offices and classrooms. On the lower level will be more classrooms and a dance studio.

The addition will include a two-story glass entryway and lobby on the Evening Street side of the building. To its rear will be an extension of the building with three tall windows and walls made of a synthetic limestone material.

Ball showed the group that the rear wall will be about 4 feet from the current wall, coming to about where the sidewalk begins.