, Salem, MA

March 3, 2014

City gets bidders for Horace Mann study


---- — SALEM — There are no guarantees the 102-year-old Horace Mann Elementary School will get a new home, but the city is finally exploring the possibility.

After seeking proposals for a study late last year and getting no responses, the city started the process over with better results.

Three architectural or consulting firms have submitted proposals for the $25,000 contract: Mount Vernon Group of Wakefield; Perkins + Will of Boston; and Winter Street Architects of Salem.

The city is expected to pick a consultant this month.

The firms are being asked to study the feasibility of moving Horace Mann, a 325-student, K to 5 school, from its longtime Loring Avenue location on the main campus of Salem State University to the less congested south campus about a half-mile away.

The study will examine the issues involved with relocating Horace Mann to the Harrington Building on the south campus. The building, the current site of university academic programs, was the Ste. Chretienne Academy, a Catholic girls’ school, from 1918 to 1971.

Horace Mann is a unique Salem school. It is a city-run school on the grounds of Salem State in a state-owned building. A “laboratory school” for the college, it is the only city school that, due to it being state property, has not been rebuilt or renovated.

It also is a school with limitations — no gym, no auditorium, a small cafeteria and limited, at best, parking.

“We need to explore if it is feasible, (and) do the school space requirements fit in that building,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said.

“The university president, myself and the school superintendent are hopeful this is possible because of the challenges of the current building ... It certainly is an exciting opportunity to relocate that school.”

A committee from the city, schools and university will evaluate the three firms and make recommendations to the mayor.

Tom Dalton can be reached at