AUGUSTA — The former Hodgkins school was built in 1958, the third school built in the city as part of a decade-long effort to update and consolidate schools to educate the post World War II baby boom.

It remains the most intact, architecturally significant local example of what, in its day, was a modern, mid-century school building encompassing the most recent trends in design and construction.

Officials are banking on those facts and characteristics to help make the empty old middle school eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for state and federal historic preservation tax credits so it can potentially accommodate those now well beyond school-aged baby boomers once again, not as a school as it has before, but as housing for senior citizens.

City councilors on Thursday will consider authorizing a resolve to show the city supports the nomination of the Ella R. Hodgkins School to the National Register of Historic Places.

The 57-year-old building needs to be on the registry so the Augusta Housing Authority, which proposes to convert it into senior housing, can obtain state and federal historic preservation tax credits for the project.

Those tax credits could cover about $3.4 million of the estimated $8.7 million cost of turning the building’s classroom and other space into apartments.


“It wouldn’t go forward without it,” Amanda Bartlett, executive director of the quasi-municipal Augusta Housing Authority, said of the importance of the tax credit funding to the project. “Our conversion of Hodgkins into affordable housing is partly financed by state and federal historic tax credits. And to be eligible for those, it needs to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Bartlett said buildings must be at least 50 years old to be eligible for the registry.

The city’s resolve, if approved by councilors Thursday, would be forwarded to the state Historic Preservation Commission, which Bartlett said is meeting later this month to vote on whether to nominate the building for inclusion in the registry.

Bartlett said the authority, as part of the project, hired a historical consultant to review the building, which is fairly unremarkable in appearance from the exterior. The consultant indicated the building would be eligible for the register.

The resolve councilors are expected to vote upon at their meeting Thursday, which begins at 6:30 p.m., states Hodgkins was the second “intermediate” school built in Augusta as part of a master plan to accommodate the baby boomers “and as a result represents the conclusion of an effort to create modern elementary school buildings to meet the needs of Augusta’s increasing population as post-war baby boomers reached school age.”

The school construction plan started with the construction of Hussey Elementary School in 1954, moved on to the former Buker Middle School in 1956, and was completed with a large, since demolished, addition to the former Cony High School in 1964.


“There was this master plan to try to accommodate the influx of baby boomers,” Bartlett said. “It’s interesting now to see some of these buildings built in that period accommodating the baby boomer generation again as they’re aging.”

Bartlett said the authority and its developer partner hope to close on the construction loan for the project in June and have the building project done in spring 2016.

Also at the 6:30 p.m. meeting Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center, councilors are scheduled to:

• hold a first reading of two on a proposal to amend the Land Use Ordinance to allow museums in some city zones, including the zone that includes the site of a building the state is negotiating to sell to the Gannett House Project, a group which hopes to acquire the former publishing family’s home next to the Blaine House to convert it into a museum of the First Amendment;

• hold a public hearing and consider authorizing the city manager to apply for $500,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to allow the Augusta Housing Authority to make smaller grants to local landlords to help them renovate and address code issues in their rental properties;

• consider accepting a $250,000 donation from the Elsie P. Viles Estate to refurbish Alumni Field at Cony High School;


• hear a presentation from Roger Madore, author of “A Postcard History Series of Augusta.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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