Grantham Village School, Grantham NH

For 70 years after the turn of the century Grantham’s population hovered just below 400. With the construction of Interstate 89 and the planned development of Eastman the town began to grow, as did the student population. By 1989, with over 1200 residents in Grantham, the 1979 three-classroom school was inadequate.

Over a period of six years, I worked with the school district to meet the needs of the changing demographics, beginning with a year-long School Study Committee and continuing through 4 years of a Building Committee (1 year as chair, another year of non-action with the purchase of portable classrooms), and a subsequent Playground Improvement Committee.

Increased taxation to pay for an addition was a concern. The larger hurdle, though, had far more to do with facilitating a change in the town’s self-image. Eastman was developed as a recreational second home and retirement community. Much of this housing stock began to shift to full time homes for young families as job growth in the Upper Valley pulled Grantham into the ring of bedroom communities. Fostering the understanding that change was inevitable, and that the townspeople must plan for and control growth or else be controlled by it, was key.

Sensitivity to the emotions of the school community was also vital. Opposition to relocating the existing ball field ran high. Twice the bond was defeated. The successful design, for which I did the preliminary architectural work, was wrapped around the baseball diamond. On the third attempt, the addition achieved voter support. The Village School has been added onto twice since, and it rates highly among area schools.

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