The Elias Brookings School, Springfield
The Elias Brookings School located in Springfield, Massachusetts once served as an elementary school built in 1925. The school was badly damaged by a rare New England tornado and closed in 2011. The Brookings School was and remains an excellent example of Collegiate Gothic-style architecture. This affordable housing rehabilitation project is a 2023 Paul & Niki Tsongas Award recipient and was also recognized by the Springfield Preservation Trust with the 2022 Preservation Award.
Built in 1925, the Brookings School served as an elementary school in Springfield, until 2011 when it was badly damaged by a tornado. Replaced by a new school, the original, historic building was left vacant for many years. With the assistance of Epsilon and using state and federal historic tax credits, the building was converted into affordable housing units while preserving the building’s historic character.
The rehabilitation project included exterior repairs and the restoration of the building’s oriels. On the interior, classrooms and offices were converted into housing units, while retaining the building’s original double-loaded corridors with terrazzo floors. Remarkably, many of these historic elements remained intact, despite taking the brunt of the tornado’s wind. Other features that were lost to time such as the oriels were restored using historic plans and photographs. Each unit received an in-kitchen chalkboard made from salvaged chalkboards throughout the building. Now with an elevator, the building is fully accessible and historic interior features such as the cherubs at each doorway, fireplace and other interior and exterior historic details were preserved.
The Brookings School was and remains as both an excellent example of its Collegiate Gothic-style architecture and a major remnant of the early twentieth-century appearance of the city's Six Corners neighborhood. Today, the once abandoned school breathes new life as it welcomes families to flourish in its halls. The one-time classrooms have been converted into one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with wide spaces, immaculate appliances, and high ceilings.
The developer in partnership with Davis Square Architects as Architect, Allegrone Companies as General Contractor and many others developed the building into 42 units of affordable housing. Epsilon's served as historic preservation consultant for the project.
The Elias Brookings Apartments is a 2023 Paul & Niki Tsongas Award recipient and was also recognized by the Springfield Preservation Trust with the 2022 Preservation Award. In addition, the project received its historic tax credit certifications and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.