The Albert S. Hall School in Waterville, shown in 2021, is nearing the end of a $1.59 million renovation project. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The Albert S. Hall School is in the final stages of a $1.59 million renovation project that included replacing all windows and exterior doors, main entryways and the boiler system in the nearly 102-year-old building.

Waterville Schools Superintendent Peter Hallen said Thursday that when the original plan fell through in 2021 to build an addition to Waterville Junior High School on West River Road that would be the new Albert S. Hall School, it became necessary to renovate the current Hall School on Pleasant Street.

About $6 million was available from federal American Rescue Plan Act money to build the new school, which would have more space for required social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, but there was a shortage of material and labor, and the cost for them skyrocketed, more than doubling that figure to about $13 million.

“We realized we were going to be in the Hall School for at least the foreseeable future,” Hallen said.

Renovation work started in June at the school when children left for the summer. Security measures became a priority because of vandalism after hours outside the school, so a camera system was installed, according to Hallen. The entryways to the school were gutted, old wooden doors that heaved at certain times of the year and wouldn’t latch properly were removed, and the entryways made safer and more efficient, he said.

All the windows and frames were replaced in the building, and two boilers added in the basement. Hallen said that with the old system, one could set the temperature at a comfortable level but that temperature would be lower in other parts of the building. Another plan in the works is to ensure there is an air-conditioned space in the building and that would likely be in the cafeteria, which also serves as the auditorium.


“We are talking with different groups that provide grants for climate resilience because the Hall School is the only school building that doesn’t have any air-conditioned space,” Hallen said.

A brick wall outside the school was repaired as part of the work. Beyond that, some cosmetic work will be done, such as replacing tiles in some of the rooms, according to Hallen.

“It’s pretty remarkable how well the building has held up,” he said.

The three-story school serves about 250 fourth and fifth graders and employs 49 teachers, custodial staff and food service workers, including several who work in other buildings as well, according to Hallen.

He said that when the school was built, children walked to school, so not a lot of parking space was needed and there remains minimal space. Day to day, parking is not an issue, but if there is an event attended by parents and staff, they must park on the street, he said.

Longtime Waterville Public Schools employee Sarah St. Pierre took over as Hall School principal this year and was on site for the work over the summer. St. Pierre, 48, of Sidney, said the renovations make a big difference and the new windows let in more light and are more efficient. The two boilers are dual fuel and may use oil or natural gas, she said.

St. Pierre started working for Waterville Public Schools as adult education secretary, then worked as an education technician at Waterville Senior High School, and later was a special education teacher. She worked in alternative education at the junior high and became a social studies teacher and chairman of the department there. Last year she worked as dean of students for Maranacook Area Schools, but chose to return to Waterville.

“I am thrilled to be back in Waterville where my career in education started,” St. Pierre said. “This is like home to me.”