Campus Renovation

Abandoned Elementary School to Get $30.5M Renovation

Windmill Street Elementary School in Providence, R.I., has sat abandoned for more than a decade. The building has experienced three fires within the last four months, as well as years’ worth of vandalism, graffiti, broken windows, and broken fences and doors. Now, the facility is set for a $30.5-million renovation project that will allow it to open its doors to students once again.

City Councilman Nicholas Narducci announced the start of the project last week. Funding was allocated last year as part of a $160-million bond approved by voters in 2018 and an additional $140-million school projects bond passed in November 2020.

The city is partnering with Eastman/Perkins Architects and Bacon Construction Co. for the design, construction and demolition work. Other tasks include asbestos removal, window replacement, playground equipment replacement and more. The project is currently scheduled for completion in fall 2023.

“When I was about 10 years old, my grandad was the boiler man, the fireman at this building, and I remember my dad taking me here for the first time to see my grandfather,” said Anthony Rao, former student, PE teacher, and eventually principal of Windmill Street Elementary School. “Such an enormous school it was for a 10-year-old child to see.”

According to local news, mayoral candidate Gonzalo Cuervo said that he’d prefer to see the building not just renovated, but “redesigned in a way that responds to the modern needs of education,” including preschool, afterschool programs and recreational activities. “Simply remodeling an 80-year-old building—it’s still an 80-year-old building,” he said.

Officials have announced that, after the building is completed, it will be used as a swing space to house students whose home schools are under construction. On a longer timeline, the city plans to open it as its own dedicated school facility once again.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].