|Berkshire Waldorf High School Has Plans for Old Stockbridge Town Hall|
|02:23PM / Friday, July 01, 2022|
|The old town hall in Stockbridge, also known as Procter Hall, has been vacant since 2008. The private high school is proposing to renovate it as a new home. |
Stephen Sagarin, Teresa O'Brient, and Cathy Clark on the steps of the Old Town Hall.
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Berkshire Waldorf High School is proposing to turn Procter Hall into its future home.
School officials on Friday announced a multiyear fundraising campaign to begin the first phase of renovation to the two-century-old structure.
"The town of Stockbridge can finally realize its two-decade old dream of finding a permanent use for this 1839 historic structure," said Teresa O'Brient, chair of the school's trustees and owner of the Stockbridge Country Store, in a press release. "We are so excited to finally have the resources to fund the extensive remediation and renovation effort that will be required to open a new chapter in the story of the Old Town Hall."
Executive Director and Faculty Chair Stephen Sagarin said moving to Procter Hall will allow the school "to double our current square footage, including creation of more and larger classrooms and a science lab, while allowing us to remain in Stockbridge within walking distance of the town center."
The 20-year-old private college preparatory school is currently located at 14 Pine St. It's based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who advocated for a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to learning. Initially the Great Barrington Waldorf High School, it changed its name when it moved to Stockbridge in 2014. It recently graduated its 16th senior class.
Procter Hall is the old town hall and has been vacant since Town Hall moved into what was the Plain School (and Williams High School before that) in 2008. The structure was built on land leased by the neighboring First Congregational Church, which voted unanimously on Sunday, June 26, to approve a memorandum of understanding between the church and school to partner in bringing the building back to life.
The church and the school have formed a close working relationship over the past years of the pandemic, and see this partnership as "win, win, win," according to the Rev. Brent Damrow, "for the church, the school, and the town."
The Norman Rockwell Museum had indicated interest in turning Procter Hall, named for a donor who funded a renovation in the 1960s, into an annex for the museum. This fell through but estimates at the time put the cost of renovation at $10 million.
The school plans to retain the services of an architect to design the space and an engineer to assess the building's needs. Once this is complete, assuming all lights are green, work on renovating the building for classes will begin as soon as possible, according to officials.
Plans are expected to be submitted to the town for approval later this summer or fall.
"While we understand the complexity of a successful completion of this transaction, we believe that Procter Hall is uniquely suited to the long term needs of the high school, and we are excited to partner with the church and the town to negotiate a transaction that is in the interest of all parties," said Sagarin.