Dalkey Management LLC
The Church Hill Grammar School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island is a prime example of the benefits of adaptive reuse as a tool of downtown revitalization. Caragh Development transformed the former elementary school and administrative building into market-rate apartments as a part of the larger Slater Cotton Mill development. MHA Boston consulted on federal historic tax credits for the rehabilitation.
Church Hill Grammar School was designed by prominent Providence architects William R. Walker & Son, designers of civic, religious, educational, and institutional buildings throughout Rhode Island. The school was built in 1889–1890, replacing an original two-story, wood-frame schoolhouse built on the site in 1841. Designed in the Queen Anne-style, the two-and-one-half-story school features load-bearing brick masonry, granite trim, and a large, square, four-story bell tower. The roofline’s brick corbelling and the school’s overall masonry work has been credited to mason Robert Wilson of Pawtucket.
The building served the community as a grammar school until 1949, and then was used as a school administration building until 2006. After 2006, the building began its long period of vacancy. In 2008, Church Hill Grammar School was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places and was subsequently listed in 2010. The rehabilitation of the school into market-rate housing began in late 2018 and was completed in early 2020.
Church Hill Grammar School’s classrooms were rehabilitated and converted into 14 market-rate housing units. The redevelopment honored the history of the structure and its architectural features while providing new modern living opportunities in Pawtucket, just steps from the new, city sponsored transit-oriented development site. The Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station and Bus Hub is a part of the city’s large-scale effort to bring a commuter rail station to the area, linking to Boston, Providence, and beyond.
Prior to rehabilitation, the interior of the school retained many historic details including original beadboard wainscoting, wood paneled doors, trim, and picture molding. The rehabilitation of the interior included the restoration of the remaining historic fabric, removal of many non-historic additions, and the installation of reproduction wood millwork and chalk rails (previously a part of the original chalkboards along the exterior walls) based on the remaining historic remnants.
The building was also brought up to modern safety standards (including fire code) and new HVAC, mechanical, and electrical systems were sensitively installed. Apartments are also equipped with high end appliances and tenants can also take advantage of the entire Slater Cotton Mill development with multiple buildings and community spaces that include a gym, indoor basketball court, theatre room and rooftop patio.
Preserve Rhode Island and Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission | 2020 Rhody Award
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