Forum Connect

Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

  • 1.  Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-17-2017 12:45


    We are potentially working with a district to save an historic school adjacent to where a new middle school is being built. I am looking for examples of historic schools that have been reused on the on the site of a new school facility. The school district has stated they cannot find any examples of where this scenario has happened and are concerned about any reuse option not being compatible because of the buildings location on the new school campus.

    Any thoughts are much appreciated!

    Many thanks,


    Sarah Hansen
    Real Estate Manager
    Maine Preservation
    Yarmouth, ME

  • 2.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-18-2017 10:37

    Ms. Hansen:

    This isn't exacty what you're looking for, but the first example of this kind of thing that came to mind was the work done by AU Associates in Lexington, KY: they have rehabilitated many former school buildings into apartments - some into market rate and others for senior or low-income housing - with pretty incredible results for adaptive use of these otherwise hard-to-redevelop older buildings.

    While I can imagine the school system would be worried about an incompatible use, I can't imagine there being much of a problem with, for example, senior housing  (with possibilities, say, of some of those seniors participating in school activities and students interacting with the seniors in the new housing) or even low-income housing if some/most/all of the units are reserved for families of students who attend the school, or whatever.  Just some ideas off the top of my head. There are other community uses one can imagine that wouldn't be incompatible with the new school.

    Anyway, I hope that helps.

    Patrick Thompson
    Bellevue NE

  • 3.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-18-2017 12:34
    We have a historic school whose building was turned into the District <g class="gr_ gr_59 gr-alert gr_gramm gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim Punctuation only-del replaceWithoutSep" id="59" data-gr-id="59">Office,</g> but also includes the local arts council and a local radio station.  The school is in Sonora, California.  Having the district office so close to the school was a benefit.

    The district is now trying to decide what is the best use for the building which sits on a hill overlooking the community.

    Shelly Davis-King
    Davis-King & Associates
    Standard, CA

  • 4.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-18-2017 15:06



    The Mobile County Public School System built a new school building when Leinkauf Elementary School burned in the 1990s. With community encouragement, the MCPSS also renovated the historic Leinkauf school building and uses both for the school. It is apparently the oldest elementary school in Alabama. I can put you in touch with the Superintendant if you would like.





    Elizabeth P. Stevens

    President & CEO

    Downtown Mobile District Management Corp/Downtown Mobile Alliance

    PO Box 112

    Mobile, AL 36601

    (251) 434-8498




  • 5.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-18-2017 17:30
    Dear Sarah,

    Are you referring to the Mary E. Taylor building? I have been following the story! I understand there is a big meeting tonight.

    I recently contacted some citizens who are leading the effort to find a way to reuse the building, as I consult for investors who are interested in ushering the project forward through the purchase of its historic tax credits (if the school board approves of its reuse). I will continue to follow it and wish you the best of luck.

    If approved, I would love to speak with you more about how we can help.


    Brittany V. Lavelle Tulla
    Principal, BVL Historic Preservation Research
    Adjunct Professor, College of Charleston
    Charleston, SC
    (732) 996-7745

  • 6.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-20-2017 14:01
    We have several examples of schools re-purposed for market rate residential or senior housing here in Knoxville, Tennessee. We have done the historic tax credit consulting for some of them and the advocacy work to help rescue all of the them. Below are links to information  on some of them. We're happy to provide more information if it will help your efforts.

    Kim Trent
    Executive Director
    Knox Heritage

    Building renovation, building restoration, senior living - Dover Development
    Doverdevelopment remove preview
    Building renovation, building restoration, senior living - Dover Development
    Dover Development Corporation specializes in building renovation projects, with particular expertise in converting neglected historic properties into senior living facilities.
    View this on Doverdevelopment >

    Brownlow Lofts
    Kinsey Probasco Hays remove preview
    Brownlow Lofts
    Specialists in commercial, mixed-use, residential and public space developments.
    View this on Kinsey Probasco Hays >

    Kim Trent
    Executive Director
    Knox Heritage, Inc.
    Knoxville TN

  • 7.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-21-2017 13:20
    Sarah and all -

    The Kansas City Missouri area was plagued with decreased enrollment and a resultant increase in the number of underutilized and abandoned school buildings.  The school district actually assigned resources and staff to deal with the problem, and what resulted was the Kansas City School Repurposing Initiative. Several of these historic schools have been reused for a number of different uses, including housing. Since most of the older schools are historic and on or eligible or the National Register of Historic Places, they are able to take advantage of federal and state historic preservation tax credits.  Here is a link to the KCSRI's website. Check out the wonderful things they are doing.
    Community / Repurposing

    Bill Hart, Executive Director
    Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation
    (Missouri Preservation)

    Forum Member Missouri Preservation
    Missouri Preservation
    St. Louis MO

  • 8.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-19-2017 10:38

    The  idea of transforming old schools into apartment housing is an interesting concept. That would have been a wonderful idea in New York, as we had remarkably beautiful public school buildings, particularly in Harlem. Sorry to say all those were abandoned were torn down. Real Estate people care nothing about quality architecture in New York. Its all about the money. Here in Thomasville, Georgia, however, the town (which is controlled by very wealthy people) have transformed one of the old public school buildings into a cultural center. If you are interested look up Thomasville Georgia and you will find it It is the Thomasville Cultural Center. As an outsider, I see Thomasville as an open air architectural museum. It has one of the largest body (collection) of Victorian and older houses that most small southern towns and they take pride in preserving them.

    Gylbert Coker

    Gylbert Coker
    Mitchell-Young-Anderson Museum, Inc.
    Thomasville GA

  • 9.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    National Trust Advisor
    Posted 07-24-2017 16:15
    We have a high school that may be getting decommissioned but will still be on an active high school campus. We are trying to convince the school district to keep the building as an active part of the campus, but we are encountering resistance. Any ideas on uses for a large high school building on a still active campus?

    Heidi Swank
    Las Vegas NV

  • 10.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-25-2017 09:45
    Do you have a local college looking to expand? In Woodstock, Georgia, the elementary school was purchased by Chattahoochee Technical College for a satellite campus. In addition, they partnered with the City and County Economic Development office to create a technology hub for businesses, startups and students in the old gymnasium.

    Stefanie Joyner
    Executive Director
    Cherokee County Historical Society
    PO Box 1287
    Canton, GA 30169

  • 11.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-25-2017 10:55
    In addition to the example I previously mentioned, MCPSS has in its portfolio Murphy High School, a 1926 high school building with 2200 students. It was damaged in a tornado several years back and the school system chose to renovate it. There is a VERY active alumni association and I think that is key to keeping the "abandonment" forces at bay with any historic school building.

    The school system has additional schools in historic buildings. Dunbar Middle School and Council Traditional School (elementary) are two others. These are both magnet schools. Finally, the school system owns Barton Academy, the oldest school building in Alabama. For many years it housed the system's central offices. About ten years ago, the offices were moved to the suburbs and the school buildings on the site went vacant. We've formed the Barton Academy Foundation and have set about to raise $12M to renovate the interiors to house the Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies, a Grades 6-12 school for advanced learners. The school system recently completed a $4M renovation of the exterior.

    If anybody knows of foundations that support putting schools back into urban, historic school buildings, please let me know. I just became president of the board of directors for the foundation! We have a $1.25M challenge grant from the Ben May Charitable Trust to match.

    (Murphy High School - About The School
    Murphy High School remove preview
    Murphy High School - About The School
    View this on Murphy High School >


    barton remove preview
    View this on barton >

    Elizabeth Stevens
    Downtown Mobile Alliance
    Mobile AL

  • 12.  RE: Reuse of historic school on existing school campus

    Posted 07-27-2017 10:16

    Hello Heidi Swank, is it possible that the school can be transformed into a historic museum that recounts the history of the years of education in the community displaying class photographs, sports, activities, various programs? Here in Thomasville, they turned an historic school into a cultural center and it has been operating for, I'm guessing thirty years or more. People, I think, would appreciate visiting the school and looking for photographs of ancestors or themselves when they were students in the school. Of course, it is always fun for people to find teachers and principals they shared in common. It is one of the best ways to discover stories from "back in the day." Just a suggestion.

    Gylbert Coker

    Gylbert Coker
    Mitchell-Young-Anderson Museum, Inc.
    Thomasville GA