A company that renovated the former Kempton J. Coady School in Bourne Village into affordable housing for people over 55 is looking to do the same to the former Henry T. Wing School.
Last Thursday, November 7, a review committee tasked with sorting through the various proposals for the Wing building recommended to selectmen that the former schoolhouse be sold to the Stratford Capital Group, who specializes in turning old schools into senior housing.
The company wants to turn Wing into a 128-unit affordable housing complex.
Besides the Coady school in Bourne, the company has completed other similar conversions in the state, including the former John Simpkins Elementary School in South Yarmouth.
The Coady School Residences were completed in 2017 and contain 58 apartments. Property manager Jacqueline Sampson said that the cost of rent for the one- and two-bedroom apartments start around $900.
The Coady School was built in 1905 and served as the original Bourne High School. In 1960, the school became the town’s junior high school until 1990.
Despite being repurposed into housing for people age 55 and older, a walk through the building reveals glimpses into the building’s former life.
The main lobby of the apartment complex is located where the auditorium used to be and the edge of the stage, including the footlights, can still be seen. Ms. Sampson said that there is now an apartment where the rest of the stage used to be.
Down the hallway, the glass windows and door that provided the entryway into the principal’s office now frame the doorway into another apartment. Lockers that used to be used for backpacks and textbooks now function as decorations along the walls. In some places, original brick and tile work has been left untouched and water fountain alcoves have remained intact.
Wall carvings typical of lovesick teenagers have been left in place on a door leading into a lounge area, with etchings bearing heartfelt proclamations such as “John + Stacey 2-getha 4-eva.”
A room that used to be a science lab has been converted into a sunroom, but still has the classroom’s greenhouse room attached, as well as a science cabinet.
Ms. Sampson said that in order for the construction team to be able to bring the building up to code during the renovation, some of those pieces were temporarily removed before being put back into place.
The fact that those nostalgic touches exist in the building is not an accident. Ms. Sampson said that Stratford is partially able to fund its projects by qualifying for historical tax credits, which requires a certain percentage of the original structure to remain in place.
“When you do a historic rehab, there are very specific guidelines,” she said.
The company’s financing plan is layered, she said, citing combining tax credits with loans and community preservation funds as an example.
In areas of the schools that are completely redone, care has been taken to maintain school imagery. A second-floor sitting room has a sign outside that reads “Teacher’s Lounge,” while others read “Library” or “Common Room.”
To accommodate the 58 units, an addition was built onto the original Coady School, though the aesthetic of the original building was maintained and the old and new buildings connect seamlessly.
Ms. Sampson said that the big difference between the old section and the new is that the apartments in the new section have a uniform floor plan, where the apartments in the old section had to be fit into the existing space.
While the building itself is no longer a community building, the baseball fields on the property are still able to be used recreationally.
Stratford is looking to purchase the Wing School from Sandwich for $1.3 million and convert it into affordable rental units apartments for people who are 62 years old and older.
The company intends to keep Wing’s 1927 building that faces Route 130. The proposal replaces the remaining buildings with two- and three-story buildings that would each contain about 40 units. The entire complex would have 128 units that would be mostly for senior citizens of low-to-moderate incomes. Some of the units will be rented out at market rates.
Last Thursday, selectmen took the review committee’s recommendation to sell the school to Stratford under advisement.
Sandwich Planning Director Ralph A. Vitacco said that if the board approves the project, construction would not start until 2022.