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An Old School Reborn

An Old School RebornThis fall, Medford’s 75-year-old Hillside School will open its doors to its next life – a new apartment complex for Tufts faculty. Medford, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.11.03] Although it lacks school bells, a playground, and a principal's office, much of the personality of the Hillside school is still very much alive in the apartments that now inhabit the 75-year-old building. Adorned with chalkboards and cloakrooms from the original structure, the one-time school was converted into an apartment complex which will house Tufts faculty and a few community members. The new Hillside School Apartments, recently opened to the public for viewing, have received rave reviews from the Tufts community and local residents alike.

"The school right now provides a good use [for the] community, which is housing, and it preserves a lot of memories for the neighborhood," Medford Mayor Michael J. McGlynn told the Medford Transcript. "If you walked through [opening] night, you heard them. People talked about how the blackboard they used to write on is in someone's living room, and that the coat room shelves now hold someone's television."

The apartments, constructed by Walnut Hill properties, were designed to preserve the building's history.

"The strategy was to use as much of the existing facility with minimal demolition," a university official told Transcript. "This included keeping the old wood flooring - you can actually see where the school chairs were bolted to the floor."

Community members say the refurbished building, located at 15 Capen Street in Medford, is a welcome complement to the neighborhood.

"I think it's marvelous," Tufts graduate Barbara Burns, who attended Hillside when it first opened in 1928, told the Transcript. Her sister, Lois, also went to the school and taught there from 1942 to 1978 after earning her degree from Tufts.

"This is a great opportunity for new faculty as they transition to Tufts and to a new area," said the Tufts spokesperson. "And for them to live within walking distance to campus with other faculty who are transitioning at the same time."

Mayor McGlynn - who appointed and worked with members of the school reuse committee - also praised the usage of the Hillside School apartments, which will include three units of affordable housing.

"Some younger families, Medford children, will have the opportunity to see a role model in their next door neighbor, a professor at Tufts," he told the Transcript.

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