Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2015 Preservation Award Winners
North Adams, Drury Academy / Colegrove Park Elementary School

North Adams • Drury Academy / Colegrove Park Elementary School

Rehabilitation & Restoration

The site of the Drury Academy / Colegrove Park Elementary School has been occupied by three school buildings over the last two centuries. The first, constructed in 1843, was replaced in 1867 by the four-story, Second Empire-style Drury Academy building. By 1914, the town's growth into a city led to the construction of Drury High School, a large addition at the front of the 1867 building. The 1914 addition, constructed of buff brick and cast stone, was designed by notable Springfield architects Eugene and George Gardner in the Renaissance Revival style. The combined buildings were listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Monument Square-Eagle Street Historic District. In 2008 the school was closed. The building remained partially occupied by special education programs and public school offices.

An extensive rehabilitation and restoration project recently preserved the building's significant historic fabric, including exterior granite and marble stairs; cast-stone features including ornate column caps, frieze panels, and a curved parapet detail; and colorful, glazed terra-cotta insignia panels. Exterior masonry underwent thorough cleaning and repair. Historically inappropriate, modern windows were replaced with new, double-glazed sash, with muntins closely replicating historic configurations. Preserved interior historic fabric included Corinthian columns with gold-leaf decoration and scrolled brackets, marble wainscoting and cast-bronze honorary wall plaques, and original stained-glass windows. The project team also restored terrazzo flooring, slate stair treads and metal railings, maple floors, and plaster walls and ceilings. Construction uncovered historic features such as windows into the new gymnasium, two sections of the 1867 academy's exterior wall, and an aggregate of the original foundation wall in the new basement corridor; these elements were preserved and left exposed to view. Exterior window openings, enclosed in the new front lobby, were glazed with fixed glass and retained for views, while an exterior cast-stone bullnose and panels became exposed interior fabric within a new elevator addition. Additionally, roughly 300 feet of slate chalkboard was repurposed as a wall finish. On target to achieve LEED Gold certification, the rehabilitated building now operates as a state-of-the-art K-7 elementary school, serving 325 pupils and renamed for the adjacent Colegrove Park. Unlike so many historic school buildings, which have been either lost or adapted to other uses, the preserved Drury Academy is able to open its doors to a new generation of North Adams schoolchildren, teachers, parents, and community members.

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