The Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust has awarded Berkshire Waldorf High School a $250,000 grant toward the cost of remediating asbestos in Old Town Hall, Stockbridge, as part of the school’s project to purchase and renovate the building as a permanent home.
Earlier this year, the Myrin Institute provided a multi-year grant of $500,000 directed at this effort. Individual donors have provided a significant portion of the overall $6.5 million project cost.
Trustees of the Fitzpatrick Trust write, “The Berkshire Waldorf Board has done great work in finding a permanent home for the school, while at the same time preserving a beautiful and important historical building on the town’s Main Street.”
Asbestos remediation will be a first step toward the planned renovation. Architectural and engineering work by Pamela Sandler Architects has proceeded for the past year, and the school hopes to begin actual construction in January 2024.
Stephen Sagarin, Berkshire Waldorf High School Executive Director, said, “We cannot adequately express our gratitude toward both institutions, and the more than 100 donors who have contributed to the project so far, for their generosity and dedication to our school and to the Town of Stockbridge.” Board Chair Teresa O’Brient added, “This project is the last, best hope for Old Town Hall to avoid demolition. It will provide millions in direct economic benefit to the Town of Stockbridge, both in terms of construction spending and ongoing support of town merchants.”
The Fitzpatrick Trust grant is contingent on school ownership of the Old Town Hall, currently owned by the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge, UCC. The Church and Berkshire Waldorf High School have entered into a purchase and sale agreement, contingent on the Stockbridge Zoning Board of Appeals approving a variance. The hearing will likely occur before Thanksgiving 2023.
The Old Town Hall has been unoccupied since 2007, when Stockbridge Town Offices moved to the renovated former Stockbridge Plain School. The building was originally constructed in 1829, with a larger addition in 1904.
Berkshire Waldorf High School, founded in 2002, enrolls approximately 50 students in grades 9 through 12. The school provides an education for adolescents that seeks truth, develops imagination, nurtures growth, fosters responsibility, and honors inner freedom in an atmosphere of academic excellence, artistic fulfillment, openness, and mutual respect. Berkshire Waldorf High School models a sustainable, creative, flexible approach to educating adolescents using existing facilities and resources—among them, Stockbridge Library, fields, and courts; Shakespeare & Company and the Berkshire Theater Group; Berkshire South Regional Community Center; Berkshire Art Center; and local artists’ and artisans’ studios.