Cultural Resources Team Helps Rehab Old Schools for Housing


September 18, 2019

VHB's Cultural Resources team helps secure state funding for Historic Tax Credits.

​At the most recent August filing deadline, VHB's Cultural Resources team submitted 26 applications to the Massachusetts historic tax credit program for projects in 12 Commonwealth communities, with a total potential value of $3 million. This follows approximately $3 million in historic tax credits that the team secured in April to support their clients' projects. Statewide, these initiatives include the rehabilitation of historic libraries, theaters, multi-family housing, and industrial and commercial buildings for community centers and either market-rate or low-income housing.

One of the most prevalent building types that VHB's Cultural Resources team collaborates on regularly with developers and architects is abandoned, vacant, or unused historic schools. In April's submission round, VHB generated a total of $870,000 to help fund the rehabilitation of six school buildings in Bridgewater, Brockton, Fairhaven, Salem, and Worcester. These schools—designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque, Classical Revival, Tudor Revival, and Colonial Revival styles—were constructed between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.

This range of construction periods and architectural styles creates an opportunity for creative problem solving between the Cultural Resources team, the project developer and architect, and state and federal reviewers. According to Senior Preservation Planner and Team Leader Quinn Stuart, “Schools pose unique preservation challenges for our team as we make sure the designs meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Educational building design challenges include developing treatment plans for large open spaces like gymnasiums and auditoriums, rehabilitating or replacing tall windows, and arranging new residential units within classrooms while maintaining character-defining features like chalkboards. The VHB Cultural Resources team excels in solving these design challenges to provide a successful path forward for our clients and their buildings."