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Reimagining the Athol Riverbend and Ellen Bigelow Schools

With the grand opening of the new Athol Community Elementary Schools in 2016, the Athol Board of Selectmen received approval to evaluate the disposition of numerous vacant town buildings. A report was issued including the reuse of the Bigelow and Riverbend Schools and both were recommended to be used for much-needed housing while preserving the historic facades.

In July 2019, the Town of Athol announced its plans to secure a qualified developer to design and implement a productive reuse plan for the Riverbend and Ellen Bigelow Schools. Given NewVue Communities’ expertise in renovating historic buildings and the desire to serve the Town of Athol through the development of multi-generational mixed-income housing, we submitted a strong development proposal. Take a look at NewVue’s Athol Proposal here!

The Riverbend School was constructed in 1907 and was expanded in 1937. The Ellen Bigelow School was constructed in 1912 and underwent a basement renovation in 1954.

an old postcard of a school building.
Ellen Bigelow School
an aged color postcard of a large brick building with sloped gray roof, 2 chimneys, and a flagpole on top
The Riverbend School
On September 12, 2019, the Athol Board of Selectmen unanimously chose NewVue Communities and ICON Architecture as the Town’s developer/partner to renovate the two-school campus into 53 units of mixed-income and affordable housing.

Given NewVue’s commitment to ensuring neighboring residents and the town have access to information as it develops and provides opportunities for input, an open house was held on September 26, 2020. Approximately 45 neighbors and community members listened to an overview of the project, viewed site plans, toured the perimeter of the buildings, and provided feedback.

The major site plan review and decision of approval for the residences at the Bigelow and Riverbend were filed with the Office of the Town Clerk on February 21, 2021.

a group of people standing with space between them outside in the parking lot of a large brick building
Community Open House
a group of people standing around a table.
Approval of the Land Disposition Agreement between NewVue and the Town of Athol was unanimously approved at the 6-12-20 Board of Selectmen meeting.

Below are the architect renditions of the anticipated redevelopment of the two schools, added senior housing building, and redevelopment of play space, community space, and parking. We invite you to visit this page for updates on our progress.

a group of people standing in a field next to a building.


Press coverage and announcement about the Athol School project