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The Club Room, which can be rented out for larger gatherings, is a place for residents to socialize and watch the large-screen TV.
DAVID LE/Staff photoThe former McKay Elementary School on McKay Street in Beverly has been turned into 32 luxury apartments with one- and two-bedroom floor plans.
The renovated McKay School retains a lot of the original brickwork and wood flooring.
Reading nooks are found in a few of the stairwells.
A central kitchen sits in between the bathroom and master bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment.
DAVID LE/Staff photo. A lot of the original woodwork, staircases and door frames can still be found in the new apartment complex at the site of the old McKay Elementary School in Beverly. 8/29/16.
DAVID LE/Staff photosSome of the first-floor apartments have private patio areas.
A bathroom in one of the new units at the McKay School apartments.
A large living room and dining room area in a two-bedroom unit in the new McKay apartments.
This bedroom is in a one-bedroom, townhouse-style apartment.
DAVID LE/Staff photo. The kitchen with breakfast bar is open to the living room in one of the two-story townhouses. 8/29/16.
Townhouse-style apartments are in a new addition to the familiar red brick of the McKay School.
The McKay School was once a place to learn; now it’s a place to live.
It’s been a couple of years since Beverly Crossing, an arm of Windover Development, was awarded the winning bid to turn the school into apartments, but construction has concluded and the building opened in July. The first tenant moved in then, according to Chris Koeplin of Beverly Crossing.
Now, 15 of the 32 apartments and town homes are leased, and people have moved into 13 of those. The new complex is split into two parts: apartments in the former school, built in 1908, and town homes built in a new section added on back.
There are 19 one-bedroom units and 13 two-bedrooms, according to Matthew Lamoureux, the property manager for the project through The Dolben Company.
Walking into the old school, visitors find a mix of its classic features and modern updates. Much of the old, wooden flooring was preserved, and some of the banisters running along the staircases were reused. Historic photos line some of the walls, providing a window into life in Beverly in the past. Columns original to the building still stand in the entrance.
“We tried to preserve what we could, as much as we could,” Koeplin said.
But the building also has many new features, including a function room with a large television and a gym nearby. There are small garden plots in the back, and a path along Shoe Pond that’s supposed to complete the path around it that goes near the Cummings Center.
The school units feature high ceilings, and some of the old school hallways were turned into walk-in closets. The kitchen in a two-bedroom apartment opens up to the living room and features quartz countertops and stainless-steel appliances.
Efficiency was key. The common areas have motion-sensor lighting and will automatically turn off when not in use. The walls were also re-insulated with foam insulation, which is more efficient, according to Koeplin.
“We did solar on this roof here,” he said, gesturing skyward. “The solar powers the common areas.”
Town homes have their own separate entrances, and each comes with a patio.
Rent ranges from $1,835 to $2,175 for one-bedroom units — some feature a den — while two-bedrooms go for $2,200 to $2,625 in the school, Lamoureux said. The town homes go for a minimum of $1,895. Each comes with two parking spaces.
“There’s a lot of interest in the school,” Koeplin said, but less demand for the town homes.
So far, renters are a mix — some empty-nesters, some families. There’s also been some interest from people who work at the Cummings Center.
The McKay School was built in 1907 to educate children whose parents worked at the United Shoe Machinery Company. The school was originally named after the shoe company’s president at the time, Sidney Winslow, but was eventually rededicated as McKay School after one of the company’s founders.
The school closed in 1990 and its students were moved to the McKeown, which was new at the time.
“It was just fun, blending the old with the new,” Koeplin said, adding that the apartments are “non-traditional” and different from the projects Beverly Crossing has done on Rantoul Street. “These offer a variety and will speak to the demographic that’s here.”
Bringing back memories
For Jean Grabowski, 89, of Peabody, it’s funny to think her old school now serves a new purpose. Grabowski said she attended fifth and sixth grade there; she still remembers which classrooms she was in and the layout of the school.
Grabowski plans to revisit her old school later this week — her goddaughter, Jean Archer, lives in one of the apartments.
“I was so surprised when she told me,” she said. “I didn’t know about it.”
Grabowski said she’s driven by recently and said the school looks the same.
“It’s funny seeing all this now,” she said. “I’m dying to go this weekend to see what it looks like.”
Arianna MacNeill can be reached at 978-338-2527 or at [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter at @SN_AMacNeill.
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