Renovation of historic Lewiston Middle School to begin in June

Lewiston Middle School Principal Shawn Chabot shows off an artist's rendition of the renovated school. The three-story addition in the front will allow for a more secure entrance on the first floor, a library on the second and new classrooms on the third. Meanwhile the entire interior will get a facelift. The $9.1 million project, paid for by property taxes, will begin in June and be completed by January 2014.
Amber Waterman | Sun Journal
Lewiston Middle School Principal Shawn Chabot shows off an artist's rendition of the renovated school. The three-story addition in the front will allow for a more secure entrance on the first floor, a library on the second and new classrooms on the third. Meanwhile the entire interior will get a facelift. The $9.1 million project, paid for by property taxes, will begin in June and be completed by January 2014.
Posted May 28, 2013, at 5:53 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 06, 2013, at 10:24 a.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — The Lewiston Middle School soon will take on a new look with a three-story addition.

The front of the early 1930s brick building, originally built as a high school, will get a major face-lift. The lower level of the addition will be made of brick and the upper two floors will have a lot of glass showcasing the original facade at night, Superintendent Bill Webster said.

Each floor of the new addition is 3,000 square feet. The first floor will have administrative offices “and a wonderful, welcoming entrance to the building with greater security. It will make a much better entrance to the school and auditorium,” Webster said.

The second and third floors will be used as temporary classroom space, housing students while other classrooms in the building are being renovated. When the project is complete, the second floor will become the library, and the third floor will become new art and science classrooms.

The original plan was to place students in portable classrooms during construction, which would have cost $300,000. Construction manager Hebert Construction of Lewiston suggested avoiding portable classrooms by building the second and third floors, using them as “swing space,” for students from classrooms undergoing renovation.

The classic red brick building has never had a major face-lift, but is structurally sound and has “good bones,” according to architects.

The exterior looks fine, but the inside is worn and dingy. Holes in the plaster are common, as is peeling paint from water damage. The bathrooms have never been updated, and, despite being cleaned, some smell of urine.

The building lacks ventilation, except for windows. A web of wires run up and across walls for systems that were installed after the building was built, such as computers and phones. And a growing enrollment means the building lacks enough space for classrooms, the library and cafeteria.

Numerous safety measures will be added, making the building safer in case of fire, Lewiston Middle School Principal Shawn Chabot said. “The whole building will now have water sprinklers. The new front entrance will allow for better security, an improved ability to monitor people coming and going.”

There’ll be improved comfort, energy efficiency and air quality thanks to a new ventilation and heating system.

“Currently, there is no ventilation in the building besides opening windows,” Chabot said.

A dropped ceiling with acoustic tiles will reduce noise when students change classes.

On the building now are the words “Lewiston High School” etched in stone. While that will no longer be visible on the exterior, the history will be preserved.

“We’re going to make an etching of that and put that very visible in the building so that people who graduated from Lewiston High will still make that connection,” Webster said.

The building has never been renovated. Throughout the school, doors will be refinished, walls repaired and repainted, and old lockers replaced.

“Our ability to do this is a tribute to two things,” Webster said. “The original construction of the building was so good, it made the renovation option possible.” It was built in 1933, compared to Auburn’s Edward Little High School built in 1961, which needs to be completely replaced, Webster pointed out.

Secondly, the project wouldn’t have happened without the generosity of Lewiston voters who approved the $9.16 million project last summer, Webster said. The money is coming from local property taxpayers since no state funding was available.

Construction will begin after school is dismissed June 13. Completion is expected by January 2014.

 

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