Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2006 Preservation Award Winners
Rockport Community House • Rockport
 
Hamel Mill Lofts • Haverhill

Rehabilitation & Restoration

The Rockport Community House, also known as the Old Rockport High School, is a wood-frame, 2 ½-story Victorian building. Constructed in 1865, the building served as the town's first high school for about 60 years, and also as an elementary school starting in 1869. The building remained in educational service until 1925, when a new high school was built. After the building had been vacant for four years, the Rockport Garden Club led an initiative to use it as the town's community house. In the 1950s, the entire building became the responsibility of the Rockport Community League. The building is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places, and is also located within the Broadway Local Historic District. The restoration and rehabilitation of the Rockport Community House resulted from an effort to bring the entire building into current compliance with applicable codes, as well as to adapt it for use by the Rockport Council on Aging.

Exterior renovations minimally disturbed the existing historic fabric. The original main entry opening was preserved, and a new, accessible door that closely matched the original doors was installed. The entry on the west façade was enlarged to provide accessibility, and also has a new door that closely matches the original. Sloped walkways and stairs, designed to minimize visual impact while providing accessibility to all users, were added to the south and west entries. On the interior, the majority of the original wood floors were preserved and refinished, with marks from school desks and chairs still visible. In addition, the original horsehair plaster, wood trim, and wood wainscoting were kept and reused when possible, and new paneling and wainscoting match the original.

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