Developer David Carver poses for a photo with a group of former Notre Dame parishioners who wanted to see what happened to their old school.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The transformation of the former Notre Dame School into apartments was unveiled Thursday as the developers are in the final stages of the redevelopment.
Scarafoni Associates was granted a special permit in February to renovate the former parochial school and has spent the last seven months transforming the classrooms into 11 apartments. The developers have already rented six of the 11 units and hope to fill the rest this month.
According to Craig Barnum of Scarafoni Associates, the developers paid close attention to preserving the historic details of the building in going so far as keeping all of the original floors and the outlines of the chalkboards.
"The nuts and bolts of this building are really, really good," Barnum said at an open house Friday afternoon. "We did our best to keep the historical integrity."
The first floor features four apartments — two two-bedrooms and two one-bedrooms — while the second floor features seven one-bedrooms. Former owner Sam Kasten, who operates a weaving business in the basement level, will continue his business there.
The building was constructed in 1937 with a convent next to it. The convent was demolished and a garden area was installed in its place. A main feature of the garden is a bench constructed from the foundation of the convent.
"It was built in 1937 and one of the first, of this size, to be built with steel," owner David Carver said. "We worked with the Mass Historical Commission to keep all of the 'historic fabric.'"
Carver said that while he previously estimated that it would cost around $1 million, even more went into the renovation.
The first tenants moved in around the beginning of September and Scarfoni is working with local real estate agents Whaling Properties to lease it.
The entrance still features the word "filles" for girls, who would enter at a different door than the boys.
"We're just helping to lease it," Whaling Properties owner George Whaling said. "You would think we'd be competitors, but it is in our best interest to have more market-rate housing downtown."
Barnum said transforming older, vacant buildings is helping to build the economy of the future by bringing feet to the downtown where residents can shop with local vendors.
"You have this downtown infrastructure that was built for yesterday's economy," Barum said.
City planners also attended the open house to see firsthand how the developments they supported turned out.
Meanwhile, there was no loss of nostalgia for those who attended school there. A group of former Notre Dame parishioners - including one aged 102 and another who graduated from the school in 1944 - were happy with the renovation.
"I'm just very excited," one of the ladies said, though she didn't want to give her name. "They kept so many memories for us. I am so glad they did it."
She specifically pointed to engravings above the entrance that reads "filles" while on the other door it reads "garcons" because "heaven forbid boys and girls used the same entrance."
And as for the convent, "we were glad to see that go."
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