Holley High School transformation wins statewide preservation award

Photos by Tom Rivers: The former Holley High School is pictured on Nov. 10 after developers spent two years in a major overhaul of the property, turning it into 41 apartments for senior citizens and the village offices.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 February 2021 at 1:49 pm

HOLLEY – The stunning rehabilitation of the former Holley High School, a $17 million project that created 41 apartments and the village offices, has won a statewide preservation award.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the recognition this afternoon for the Holley Gardens, which is the name of the repurposed school.

Home Leasing and Edgemere Development teamed up on the project, which won the award for Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation.

The school was originally constructed in 1930 and 1931. It was last used as a school in 1975. A manufacturing used a portion of the building before going bankrupt in the mid-1990s. The building then sat vacant for more than two decades, and was frequently targeted by vandals.

Here is how the building looked in May 2018. Contractors removed the trees coming out of the façade, and put back columns in the front, among the many extensive upgrades.

Cuomo, in announcing the award, praised the developers for the “dramatic rehabilitation of the building” that has created 41 affordable housing units for seniors and new office and meeting space for the village government.

Home Leasing and Edgemere utilized both the state Historic Tax Credit and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs to assist with the adaptive reuse.

The Holley school was one of 11 honorees announced today by the governor.

“The 2020 New York State Historic Preservation Awards help bolster efforts to keep New York’s storied history protected and accessible to all,” Governor Cuomo said. “These historic projects demonstrate the diversity of lived New York experiences since our state’s founding. New York is thankful to the dedicated stewards of each site, who provide invaluable support by devoting countless hours to the protection of historic sites for all to learn from and enjoy.”

A worker cleans in the stairwell at the former Holley High School on April 1, 2020. Crews were slowed last spring and summer due to restrictions on the size of work crews in the Covid-19 pandemic. The original railings were saved as part of the construction project.

This group from the community tours the school on Oct. 18, 2019 while it was under construction.

Here is how the hallways looked in April 2020 after most of the work was done. The old lockers were included as a decorative touch and to connect to the building’s original use.

Home Leasing turned former classrooms and offices into 41 apartments. Most of those are about 700 to 800 square feet. Many of the apartments include the old chalkboards, which many of the residents use to jot down notes.

Community members in October 2019 tour the auditorium space, which proved a challenge to convert into a meeting room and the village offices. Besides converting the auditorium into offices and meeting space for the Village of Holley, the Home Leasing needed to abate hazardous materials, refurbish and replace windows, repair and replace the roof, and reconfigure some of the interior walls. Two new elevators also were installed as well as new mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and sprinkler systems, new water, sewer, electric and gas services, fire alarms and an intercom system.

The main meeting room is pictured in late August, after the village relocated its offices to the space. Home Leasing was able to refurbish about 70 seats from the old auditorium. There are also about 40 seats up in the balcony that are for display and aren’t available to the public.