May 07, 2003 1 min read

Overlooked Treasures

Some of Boston’s oldest school buildings have exquisite details rarely noticed by educators and students. Architects, on the other hand, marvel over such handiwork. Now, a new book strives to bring more attention to those special features.

Architect Doris Cole, the president of the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm Cole & Goyette, wrote the book, School Treasures: Architecture of Historic Boston Schools, after visiting nearly all the city’s 130 schools over the past six years, and renovating dozens of them. Architect and photographer Nick Wheeler illustrated the book and accompanying CD with photos and old blueprints.

During her visits, Ms. Cole found treasures such as intricate carvings and sculptures, ornate glasswork, and architectural designs that are not found in newer schools. One school, for instance, has a meticulously crafted iron fire escape.

“People didn’t talk about or know about how wonderful these schools are,” Ms. Cole said.

She said she was impressed by how well-planned and adaptable many of the historic facilities are. Most schools in the book were built before or during the Great Depression; the oldest Boston schools still in use date back to the late 1800s.

Ms. Cole says that while all older schools aren’t necessarily historically significant, the project has given her a renewed energy for saving and “rejuvenating” such facilities, and she hopes it will inspire others to do the same.

The book and CD set is published by Font & Center Press in Weston, Mass.

Building Day

Advocates for better school facilities in the nation’s capital celebrated School Building Day April 11 with a renewed call for more energy efficiency in schools.

The local observance of the seventh annual national event challenged middle school students in Washington to design schools that would be high-performing, healthy, safe, and energy-efficient. The students got help from mentors— architecture students from Howard University in the city and the nearby University of Maryland.

The theme was chosen to highlight recent calls, including a provision in the federal “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001, to make U.S. schools more energy-efficient. Sponsoring the event were the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

—Joetta L. Sack