Built in 1930 with additions in 1935, 1937, 1973 and 1976, the Portsmouth Middle School is an architectural gem and an icon to the Portsmouth community. However, elements and portions of the building on Parrott Avenue were well beyond their useful life in serving 550 students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades.
Following a six-year decision-making process, the City Council on August 17, 2009, approved a $37.5 million bond to renovate the Middle School and expand it by approximately 30,000 square feet.
Central to this decision was the goal of creating a “High Performance” school that is environmentally sensitive and substantially more energy-efficient while preserving the original building’s historic façade. By meeting the guidelines of the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools (NE-CHPS), which is similar to LEED certification, Portsmouth becomes eligible for an additional 3% in building aid. This would increase the total building aid from the State of New Hampshire to 43% -- just over $16 million.
Upon completion for the fall 2013 opening of school, the building will be able to serve up to 650 students.
The design approved by the Portsmouth Middle School Joint Building Committee on May 19, 2010, calls for preservation of the original 1930 building and the 1937/1963 additions while demolishing the 1935 gymnasium and the 1976 classroom wing addition. A new three-story addition will be constructed to provide a 21st century solution while reinforcing the horizontal lines of the existing facility. The project will maintain the existing foundations, structural frame, exterior and interior load-bearing walls and roof framing, including the iconic gold-dome cupola located over the center gable that defines the main entrance to the Middle School. The School Board has approved a “phasing” plan to minimize disruptions to the Middle School program and students, faculty and staff. To view the phasing plan, click here
The new wing will be built on Alumni Field, requiring the construction of a new softball field on Granite Street. Additional usage of Portsmouth High School athletic fields by Middle School students required the installation of synthetic turf. To learn more about the fields/athletics, click here
The Joint Building Committee tasked with overseeing the project is comprised of Co-Chairs Chris Dwyer from the City Council and Dexter Legg from the School Board; City Councilors Eric Spear and Jerry J. Hejtmanek; School Board Members Leslie Stevens and Elizabeth Sweet; citizen members Ernie Carrier, Mary Ann List and Peter Middleton; and ex-officio members City Manager John P. Bohenko, Superintendent Edward McDonough, School Business Administrator Stephen Bartlett and Middle School Principal John Stokel. To learn more about the JBC and its Guiding Principles, click here
August 2009 Portsmouth City Council Approves Construction Bond
October 2009 Middle School Joint Building Committee formed
December 2009-2010 Planning and design
Summer 2010 Portsmouth High School athletic field turf installation
Granite Street Softball Field Construction
January/February 2011 Construction bid process
Spring 2011 Ground-breaking
Spring 2011- Phase 1: Construction of new wing
Fall 2012-February 2013 Phase 2: Renovation of 1930s building
Fall 2013-Summer 2013 Phase 3: Demolish 1970s wing and build new Commons
Fall 2013 Completion!