Skip to main content

History

Preserving History, Creating Community: The Remarkable Transformation of Cleveland's Henry W. Longfellow School

History

Located at 650 East 140th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, The Henry W. Longfellow School stands as a testament to the architectural prowess of its time. Built-in 1924 by the talented architect Walter McCornack, the school has been a cornerstone of education in the Collinwood community for more than 85 years. The closure of the school in 2011 marked a crucial turning point. The threat of demolition loomed over the historic building until the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS) stepped in. Their efforts proved fruitful as they successfully had the school designated as a national landmark and added to the National Register of Historic Places by the City of Cleveland. Cleveland City Councilmember, Michael D. Polensek also played an instrumental role in the transformation supporting the project from inception to completion.

a black and white photo of a brick building

To breathe new life into the abandoned structure, CRS and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District sought proposals from developers. Vesta Corporation was chosen to redevelop the property into 80 affordable senior apartments, carefully preserving some of the school's historic elements. The project included the transformation of 22 classrooms, 4 facility rooms and 4 faculty into 30 apartments in the redeveloped school building and the construction of a new building with 50 additional units was added. The renovation project faced challenges in balancing historical integrity with modern functionality, but Vesta successfully maintained the building's original charm while creating practical and elegant living spaces. The meticulous restoration efforts included preserving original cabinetry, storage cubbies, and marble window ledges. The Longfellow now serves as a vital part of the Collinwood community, offering unique living spaces and contributing to economic development in the area. The retention of the auditorium as a community gathering space has fostered engagement and unity among residents, solidifying the school's place as a cherished and integral part of the neighborhood.

a group of men playing a game of baseball in a gym


Before Construction

Gymnasium, June 1931, Henry W. Longfellow School


a group of children sitting at desks in a classroom


Before Construction

Kindergarten Class, Henry W. Longfellow School


a group of children are standing in front of a door


Before Construction

1981, 4th grade class, Room 220, Henry W. Longfellow School