Belleville High School

Merit Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation
Belleville High School, Belleville (Republic County)

Belleville High School’s class bell rang for the last time in 2013, after 82 years of service, most recently as a middle school. Built in 1931, the school was constructed in the Collegiate Gothic style, with variegated red brick and ashlar limestone foundations and detailing. Purchased in 2013 by Pioneer Group, the school has been converted into low income apartments. On the exterior of the building, the stairwell windows that had been infilled were recreated, allowing more natural light into the interior. Previously installed, non-historic classroom windows remain, and the historic auditorium windows were repaired and painted with the addition of new storm windows. Necessary masonry and downspout repairs were also performed. On the interior, the apartment units were created within existing classroom and office spaces wherever possible. Some remaining spiral stairs, vaults, trophy cases, fire extinguisher cabinets, time clocks, chalkboards, and tackboards were preserved and incorporated into the apartments. Three living units were provided within the original auditorium space, one on the stage behind the curtain, and two above and below the balcony, allowing the preservation of the three hundred original seats and the front of the stage. No work was performed in the gymnasium, as Pioneer Group made a commitment to the community to maintain the space for community use. The Belleville High School, now known as Buffalo Apartments, continues to serve the community, providing much needed housing options in a rural setting.

Federal historic preservation tax credits were utilized to fund this rehabilitation.

The project team included: Pioneer Group; Architect One, Inc.; LSA Engineers; Woltkamp Construction; and Spencer Preservation.