By Beth David, Editor
Members of Fairhaven’s Rogers School Re-Use Committee conducted tours of the old school last week to highlight the building’s strengths and character. More than 300 people toured the building, according to a Facebook post by committee chairperson Susan Loo.
She said the majority left in “awe of not only the building’s beauty but the overall good condition the building is in contrary to what they have been hearing.”
The building has been mostly emptied out, and cleaned up, and is being “mothballed” to save it from further deterioration. The committee is pushing to have it rented by SMEC, to be used for classrooms again. That prospect is in the mix of possibilities. The Selectboard is leaning towards issuing another Request for Proposals that would include leasing the building for classes.
A couple of past proposals included knocking down the 1950s annex and building single family homes or apartments using the old building and new construction.
The school was the first gift of town benefactor Henry Huttleston Rogers, and was built in 1885. It was used as an elementary school for 128 years, until 2013.
On Thursday, Doug Brady led a tour through the gym in the addition, through classrooms, into the old building, including the auditorium, the caretaker’s quarters, the boiler room, and the basement bathrooms, with boys and girls quite separated.
Robert “Hoppy” Hobson made it known that his preference was to create housing for veterans in the old space.
Joni Souza said she joined the tour because she lives in the neighborhood and was curious about the building.
“It’s an incredible place,” said Mr. Brady.
He pointed out the “infamous” room that was shown at Town Meeting to possibly have mold. The ceiling has since been taken down. He noted that the only asbestos is in the tile floors in only part of the 1950s addition.
“The whole point is to dispel rumors,” said Mr. Brady. “And let people see for themselves.”
The committee is determined to see the site used as a school again. He pointed out that in the attic, it is not easy to create an apartment because the beams are low and support the whole roof.
“I’ve gotta say, it’s a cool place,” said Mr. Hobson. “If they can spend two million dollars on a football field, they can spend a few million here.”
Cathy Melanson, who volunteered at the door that day, said a local contractor told her that the building was salvageable. He told her he believed the 1950s addition could sustain a second floor. She would not name the contractor.
The building clearly has some leaks, especially in the addition. None of it is insurmountable, contend the committee members.
One has to wonder, however: What would HHR do? He was, after all, a man who spent lots of money building new, and tearing down the old to do it.
To learn more about the building, visit https://fairhaventours.com/rogers-school-fairhaven-ma/
To learn more about HHR and his gifts to the town, visit https://fairhaventours.com/henry-h-rogers/
Find us on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/NeighbNews, for more photos of the school.
Click here to download the entire 10/7/21 issue: 10-07-21 RogersSchool
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