The Eliot Upper Innovation School at 39 North Bennet Street in Boston’s North End has been awarded the Preservation Massachusetts’ 2019 Mayor Thomas M. Menino Legacy Award.
The new building, serving approximately 300 students in grades 3 through 8, opened in September 2017. It was completely renovated and redesigned by Finegold Alexander Architects. The previous building had been occupied by the North Bennet Street School, which has since moved to North Street.
The Menino Legacy Award recognizes projects that are “transformative, catalytic, embrace the community, create partnerships and revitalize the best of the past to pave the way for the future.” This is fitting for the Eliot School, which is the oldest continuously running school in the United States. Originally located at 34 Charter Street, it has always been in the North End. Once marked as underperforming and slated for closure, the school has now been thrice recognized as a Commendation School for exceeding academic growth goals. The school has clearly been revitalized and so too, has its physical presence in the North End.
“We know that Boston Public School students deserve the best, and our investment in this school is a testament to how we value public education in Boston. This new space brings the Eliot School into the 21st century and creates the best learning environment for our students. I’m proud that as a City, we’re making investments that will allow students to achieve their full potential.” – Mayor Walsh
Jim Alexander, Senior Principal at Finegold Alexander Architects, has worked on several Boston projects, including the renovation of all three Eliot School buildings. He was recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. He spoke about the Eliot Upper School design saying, “A school reflects the heart of a community, and we gave the building a heart. The central organizing space is a double height multi-purpose room. Classrooms ring this new heart which sits on the foundations of a former church (1832) that once occupied the site.”
The Eliot Upper School now has 42,000 square feet of light-filled education spaces. There are 24 classrooms, a multi-purpose room, cafeteria, administrative offices and speciality counseling spaces.
“We are so thankful that this school, as well as the building, will serve as a hub for education and collaborative learning opportunities while also contributing as an anchor of this community,” said Traci Walker-Griffith, Principal of the Eliot Innovation School.