The Champlain Valley Senior Community is a recipient of an Adirondack Architectural Heritage Preservation Award. Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is a nonprofit historic preservation organization whose mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondack’s unique and diverse architectural heritage.
The AARCH award is given to preservation projects which model exemplary dedication to restoring and maintaining the history of the Adirondack region. “The dedication, work, and care” shown in the “sensitive adaptive reuse of the former Willsboro School building certainly embodies these ideals,” according to the Adirondack Architectural Heritage board of directors.
In 2012, Eli Schwartzberg began renovating the abandoned Willsboro High School. “I came along and just saw a diamond in the rough. There was a lot of peeling paint, leaking roofs and deterioration, but the structure of the building was really solid,” Schwartzberg said.
Many elements of the school lent themselves wonderfully to Schwartzberg’s vision of creating a state of the art assisted living community to serve the needs of area seniors. “The hallways are 10 feet wide, so two people with walkers can easily pass each other,” Schwartzberg said. The gymnasium has now been converted into a dining room, living area, and social venue for community events. The classrooms made spacious living suites with 12-foot-high ceilings and large 8 foot windows.
Preserving the Old School’s Charm
In order to maintain the historical charm of the building, which dates back to 1927, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, special attention was giving to preserving the neoclassical features of the building. The hallways feature original hardwood, oak archways, and historic door frames.
The stage has also been preserved and once again serves to entertain the residents and local community. Student murals still grace the walls and slate chalkboards have been reused in creative ways. In some cases, the chalk inscriptions written by students on their last day of school have been preserved, forever a reminder of the building’s past.
The curtains from the stage have also been utilized to darken the community movie theater, and cloak the chapel entrance. The reception area desk is also re-purposed chemistry lab furniture.
The Champlain Valley Senior Community welcomes visitors who wish to tour.