Brown School Re-Use Updates

Youth Services & Community Space

The Newburyport Youth Services program has been relocated from the former Kelley School building on High Street to the first floor of the Brown School on Milk Street, which is now being referred to as the “Newburyport Rec Center.”  Work continues to outfit classroom and office space in the Brown School building for this purpose.  The Brown School gym is used daily by the neighborhood and community at large.  A September 30, 2013 vote of the City Council also designated a significant portion of the former school grounds for public purposes as park and playground space with the intention that these portions of the property be retained for public use in perpetuity, even after lease or sale of a portion of the property for private use. 

Adaptive Reuse Feasibility Study

With construction of the new Bresnahan School building (and consolidation and relocation of students and teachers) the Brown School may become surplus school property, no longer required by the School Department.  As such, the Office of Planning & Development has engaged the services of Winter Street Architects, Inc. to develop an adaptive reuse feasibility study, with a building assessment, conceptual reuse plans, and recommendations for the viable “adaptive reuse” of this former school facility.

At this time Winter Street and City officials are examining the viability of a mixed-use building, including continued Youth Services programs, use of the gymnasium for community events and activities, relocation of ancillary municipal offices, and eventual conversion of second and third floor classroom space into residential units, affordable housing, live-work space or artist lofts.  Conversion of the building to office uses is no longer being considered due to the increased demand for parking required by this use category on a site and surrounding neighborhood with limited space to accommodate this demand.

Draft Reuse Feasibility Study

The DRAFT Brown School Adaptive Reuse Feasibility Study, including narrative and conceptual plans depicting options for “adaptive reuse” of the building, taking into account the need for on-site parking and related site improvements will be posted below for public review and discussion.  Please use the link here to send your comments and/or concerns to the City for review and consideration.  All feedback will be taken into account as the feasibility study is completed and a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) is prepared to solicit bids from private developers interested in converting the unused portions of the building and site to residential or mixed uses compatible with the ongoing use of a portion of the building and grounds as the “Newburyport Rec Center.”

Neighborhood Meetings & Public Comment

Several neighborhood meetings have been held at the Brown School in recent months to update residents and the general public on the status of the feasibility study, and to allow for public comment, questions, and suggestions before the plan is finalized with recommendations for the preferred and most viable future use(s).  In addition, the City is evaluating the level of interest from local artists for artist loft space within the Brown School as one potential reuse of the upper floors.  While the feasibility study is updated to address the many comments and suggestions we have received to date, please note that comments submitted via this website have been posted below (as a downloadable PDF) for the benefit of all.  Information about any future meetings regarding the Brown School Adaptive Reuse Feasibility Study will be posted here and on the City Calendar.

Questions or Concerns?

For additional information, or for those interested in obtaining the RFP for adaptive reuse of the former Brown School, please contact:

Director of Planning & Development
(978) 465-4400
To receive updates on this project, please subscribe to E-Alerts by selecting "Brown School Re-Use Updates" under "News or Announcement Updates" here.  

Staff Contacts

Name Phone
Andy Port (978) 465-4400 ext. 1