NewVue Communities is pleased to announce that our most recent affordable housing project, The Carter School Apartments in Leominster, will receive the coveted 2021 Paul and Niki Tsongas Award from Preservation Massachusetts. The award celebration, slated for Thursday, May 20, will recognize projects that have displayed the highest level of commitment to historic preservation in Massachusetts.
The Carter School Apartments is also included in the pool of projects to be selected as the People’s Choice Award through a popular vote campaign. Join us in voting HERE as many times a day as you like.
Learn why the Carter School Apartments project is so remarkable.
A beautiful, stately building that sat vacant and badly deteriorating for over 20 years until it was rescued and restored, Carter School Apartments is the embodiment of preservation. Originally known as Leominster High School, it was designed by the locally prominent Worcester-based architectural firm of Frost, Briggs & Chamberlain. It is Leominster’s most elaborate public-school building. In 1963, the building was renamed to James G. Carter Middle School. In 1985, it was reorganized as an administration building for the School Department until 1995, when it was sold to a private party and remained vacant.
A Classical Revival-style red brick and granite structure, Carter School is an impressive five-story building encompassing 63,000 square feet. A brick boiler house and smokestack totaling 2,100 square feet complete the site, located in a picturesque, open setting in a residential neighborhood. When NewVue Communities, Davis Square Architects, and the project team first surveyed the building, because of its quality design and craftsmanship, the exterior was in good condition and the masonry well preserved. However, interior access was extremely limited due to the structurally compromised conditions from major water infiltration, stemming from the failed roof. Some floors had collapsed on one another, preventing safe building entry, and a cherry picker lift was required to inspect the upper floors.
The project team worked creatively to develop the best strategy to retain the school’s original character-defining features while creating quality housing. Classrooms were transformed into a mix of 14 one-bedroom units, 21 two-bedroom units, and four three-bedroom units featuring spacious layouts, high ceilings, and large windows allowing for an abundance of natural light. In the center of the building, former spaces such as the auditorium, cafeteria, and administrative offices were converted to common areas for resident gatherings and community space, fitness space, and storage. The boiler house was repurposed for additional storage space. Many historic elements were salvaged and re-installed, such as the original front and side doors, window and door wood trim, hardwood flooring, and chalkboards.
Exterior envelop and heating systems were brought up to modern standards. The massive brick walls and roof received spray foam insulation, and the original single-paned wood windows were replaced with double-paned windows that closely match the original, yet are vastly more energy-efficient. The original heating plant, a coal-fired boiler that fed huge arrays of steam pipes, was replaced by heat pumps which use a fraction of the energy, shrink the carbon footprint, and provide air conditioning. The building proudly received Enterprise Communities’ GREEN Communities certification.
What makes Carter School’s transformation particularly special is the love, support, and pride from the community and local, state, and federal elected officials. Carter School enjoyed a long history filled with the community’s young students, providing education to many who remember the building fondly; some of those very same students have gone on to become residents. The significant alumni turnout of both students and staff at the community meetings and groundbreaking event made it clear to see just how much of an investment they had for their alma mater’s new chapter in life.
CONGRATULATIONS TO A WELL DESERVING PROJECT AN INCREDIBLE DEVELOPMENT TEAM!9