The official opening of the Eliot School K-8 building on Commercial Street took place on Saturday, Oct. 19, with Mayor Martin Walsh and Supt. Brenda Cassellius joining Principal Traci Walker Griffith and students and families to celebrate the new building.
The ribbon cutting celebrated the brand new Eliot K-8 School building at 585 Commercial Street in the North End, a $40 million investment in Boston Public Schools for which about 40 percent of the students come from Charlestown.
“I am thrilled to celebrate the opening of a new Eliot School building,” said Mayor Walsh. “This school is a big part of the North End’s history, and will remain the heart and soul of this community for decades to come. Thank you to all our partners who made this possible, I look forward to all our students, teachers, families and the entire BPS community enjoying this beautiful building.”
Construction for the Upper School renovation project began in 2017. The renovation of this building, along with an earlier renovation project at the Salem Street building, represent a $40 million expenditure. The two projects are key investments for the North End community, and are reflective of the City of Boston and BPS’s commitment to provide innovative, modern learning environments to students.
The Eliot K-8 School now consists of three facilities, all in the North End. The Lower School, located at 16 Charter Street, serves pre-K, Kindergarten and first-grade students; the Intermediate School at 173 Salem Street serves students in grades 2-4; and the recently completed Upper School at 585 Commercial Street serves students in grades 5-8.
The new, 42,000-square-foot Commercial Street facility opened in September. Interior and site improvements include a digital art studio, a technology classroom with robotics lab and laser cutter, media center, and 18 new classrooms that promote collaborative learning. The building also features eight brightly colored projecting bays, which create “learning nooks” geared for small group instruction and collaborative learning. Exterior upgrades include a new schoolyard with play structure and a brand new roof. The building also features a multi-purpose space that may be utilized by the community.
The renovations of both the Commercial Street and Salem Street campuses were designed by the Boston-based firm Finegold Alexander Architects. Daniel O’Connell’s Sons were the contractor for the project. Design and construction of the project was managed by the City of Boston Public Facilities Department.
“Every student deserves access to a 21st century education and Boston Public Schools is committed to providing all of our youth with safe, joyful and innovative learning environments,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “This is an exciting time for the Eliot School, and demonstrates the immense value and strength of coordinated community engagement and collaboration for the benefit of our children.”
Numerous building features promote sustainability and resiliency, including a new reflective roof, high-efficiency boilers and new glazing that maximizes natural light. Other mechanical improvements include a new electrical system and fire and alarm protection systems. The cafeteria will also feature the My Way Cafe school meals program, which provides students with fresh, healthy food options.
“It’s incredible that our students are learning about American history and social studies with a view of the Bunker Hill Monument and the U.S.S. Constitution,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “This beautiful new building will facilitate hands-on, collaborative learning experiences for our students and will undoubtedly serve as a model for future BPS construction projects.”
The new campus is located on the Harborwalk, providing rear access to the building, and is also a short distance to public parks and all of the historic North End, with nearby MBTA access via North Station. The two other Eliot Schoolcampuses are also within walking distance, with students frequently traveling from one building to the others throughout the school day.
The Eliot’s 730 students are evenly distributed among the three school buildings, with the Upper School currently serving nearly 250 students. The Eliot School has experienced renewal under Principal Walker Griffith’s 12 years of leadership, transforming the school into a thriving, deeply connected K-8 school community. Walker Griffith credits her holistic approach-serving children academically, socially, and emotionally-and the help of a committed teaching staff, dedicated student families and an engaged community.
“The opening of the new Upper School is a true testament to our community’s and the City of Boston’s belief in public education and commitment to the Eliot School’s expansion,” said Principal Walker Griffith. “Every day our students, families, and faculty enter a magical, state-of-the-art building where they engage in learning and experiences on their path to being the change agents of the future. As the proud principal of the Eliot School, I am forever grateful for a community deeply rooted in the mission that a great education can transform students’ lives.”
The Eliot School is the oldest continuously-run school in the United States and has been located in the North End for its entire history. The school opened as the North Writing School in 1713 and has educated many famous Bostonians, including Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.