Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
SC Biz News

Real Estate - Commercial

Historic Charleston school undergoing $42M renovation into housing units

Real Estate - Commercial
  • Share

The former Henry P. Archer Elementary School building, which opened in 1936 on Charleston’s eastside, is undergoing a transformation.

The building on Nassau Street, which closed in 1980 and sat empty for years, is being renovated into a home for low-income senior citizens.

The $42 million project is being developed by the Humanities Foundation in a joint venture with James Doran Co., according to a news release. Funding was provided by the city of Charleston to purchase the building from the school board. The City of Charleston Housing Authority also assisted by issuing tax-exempt bonds and project-based vouchers, according to the release.

“It is really important for us to save as much as we can of the original structure,” said Tracy Doran, co-founder and president of the Humanities Foundation, in the release. “The school building is of great historical significance to the city.”

Civil Rights icon Septima Poinsette Clark taught at the school, which still features hardwood floors and original brick and iron work, according to the release.

Doran instructed Trident Construction, which has been hired to renovate the building, to save anything and everything it possibly can while still allowing for the structure to become comfortable and safe housing for residents, the release stated.

In order to do that, the Trident team has worked closely with engineers.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a great structural engineer, Atlantic Engineering,” said Chris Burrell, senior project manager at Trident Construction. “They’ve developed strategies to allow as much of the existing structure to remain in effort to incorporate a great deal of the original building into the design. A lot of efforts were made initially by the whole team to survey the existing conditions and do analysis to support the end goals.”

A grand auditorium with large windows sits at the center of the old Henry P. Archer Elementary School. (Photo/Provided)

A grand auditorium with large windows sits at the center of the old school, according to the release. Burrell’s team, working with architects and engineers, will develop this space into a common area where residents can socialize with each other and guests. Parts of the stage will become apartments much like the rest of the building.

“The original school has the traditional lines of the Old Charleston Architecture,” Charleston architect Martin Miller of Martin Riley Associates said in the release. “Much of the building’s style was preserved, including the prominent masonry brickwork and iconic chimneys seen throughout the building’s facade. The building has beautiful, detailed masonry walls, wide chimneys, large windows, and door openings deserving to be preserved and we determined the reconfiguration of classrooms to apartments could be completed while saving these elements.”

A total of 28 affordable housing units will be made available in the original building, and an additional 61 units will be created in a newly constructed building on the property, according to the release. All potential residents must meet income qualifications to be eligible to live at the newly named Archer School Apartments. The Humanities Foundation hopes retired school teachers, people currently living on the Eastside as well as former students will apply. The Foundation will also work with CCSD to house teachers over 55.

The project is set for completion in spring 2024, according to the release. A garden, walking paths with landscaping and a pavilion will also be added around the property. Additionally, Humanities foundation will provide multiple senior resident’s services.

Reach Jason at 864-568-7570.

  • Share
Write a Comment

Subscribe to Our Digital Newsletters