Ashland Historic School Renovation

Photo supplied by The Ashland Historic Society

Originally built in 1878, the Old Ashland School was used as a school until it was closed in 1991 when the students were sent to the regional high school.   Once described by Bryant Tolles in his guidebook New Hampshire Architecture as “One of New Hampshire’s  finest Victorian eclectic public school buildings”, the building was falling into disrepair and was designated as one of the “Seven to Save” by the NH Preservation Alliance .

Before Renovation

Tri-County Community Action Program and the non-profit group, L-CHIP asked Samyn-D’Elia Architects to bring this historic building into the 21st century. Following NH Smart Growth Principles, the architect, the town’s historical society, school children, town elders and local businesses participated in public meetings, to supply both historical perspective and new ideas for the schoolhouse.  Through fund raisers, generous donations, petitions and countless meetings, the people of Ashland have worked together to save their schoolhouse and create a new point of pride for their community.

After Renovation

Now an asset to the state of New Hampshire and the Town of Ashland, the school has been renovated in a historically accurate way, while using energy efficient mechanical systems, insulation, lighting and windows.  The challenge to meet current code requirements was met and exceeded.  The renovation was recognized by the New Hampshire American Institute of Architects and was awarded a Merit Award in 2011, as well as a 2011 Achievement Award from the NH Preservation Alliance.





To comply with today’s more stringent code requirements, an ADA compliant elevator and new stairway were incorporated into the design.




The old windows presented a challenge with regard to sustainable design elements and energy efficiency.  The estimate to restore the windows was beyond the budget; however, a compromise was reached when Jeld-Wen provided energy efficient windows that were responsive to the historic design parameters set by the architect.




The school that was abandoned and left empty, now houses offices and classroom space for Head Start





 The original folding chalkboards that act as room dividers were restored and repaired and are in use in the building at their original location.  School house lights were procured to match the historic classroom lighting.  The original wainscoting and walls had to be carefully removed and reinstalled by the contractor Milestone Engineering and Construction to allow for the application of modern spray insulation.



Long gone is the old boiler and in it’s place is the new efficient and cost saving mechanical system that heats and air conditions the entire building.  The modern spray insulation seals the building from the heat and cold elements that are typical in New Hampshire.



Photos by John Hession

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