Chestnut Park Apartments

Holyoke, MA

Western Builders’ proficiency in meeting the complex challenges inherent in specialty historic restoration proved vital in this 12 million dollar conversion of the former Holyoke Catholic High School campus to affordable housing. At the onset, Western addressed environmental concerns, performing abatement programs for asbestos, lead paint, and mold in accordance with Massachusetts state codes before a phase of selective demolition to ready the site for renovation. During the reconstruction, Western continued to work collaboratively with design team members — including architectural, structural, environmental, and mechanical engineers — to satisfy the National Park Service (NPS) and Massachusetts Historic Commission (MHC) preservation standards as well as modern-day building codes, the architect’s vision, and the owner’s needs.

As part of Holyoke’s revitalization initiative, the repurposing of the property’s buildings (the high school, elementary school, rectory/chapel, and nuns’ residence) added 54 affordable and tasteful apartments to the downtown. Designed by The Architectural Team Inc. (TAT) of Chelsea, Massachusetts, the residences include 6 studios, 24 one-bedroom apartments, and 24 two-bedroom apartments, all with access to an on-site laundry.

While executing the construction plan, Western preserved the buildings’ beautiful aesthetics, repairing the slate roofs and re-pointing the masonry in compliance with NPS and MHC requirements. The project’s windows alone required a multi-tiered restoration determined by the NPS to ensure qualification for Historic Tax Credits. Work on the chapel’s vintage 1880’s stained glass windows ranged from partial rebuilding and cleaning in some cases to complete recreation in others. The windows in the former rectory, deemed the most architecturally significant, required the abatement of lead paint and asbestos glazing followed by complete restoration of the original sashes and trim. In the remaining three buildings, replication of original windows utilizing aluminum and aluminum-clad wood was achieved through following highly detailed drawings, and the fabrication of custom dyes matched exactly to the existing trim and moldings. Throughout the premises, the original flooring and tin ceilings, and interior trim were also restored.

After standing vacant and boarded for 13 years, the buildings’ conversion was complete in December 2015. They now provide Holyoke residents with luxurious housing that is both central and affordable. Western Builders is proud of the part it played in making this project a reality for owner E. Denis Walsh and Weld Management.