Historic School Gets New Lease on Life
A former Catholic elementary school is reborn as luxury condos in a Philadelphia suburb.
Built in 1925, The St. Margaret School in Narberth, PA had outgrown its original purpose and was in need of a refresh that could give new life to the historical building. After seeing potential in this beautifully crafted gothic building, Moser Construction Management set out to reinvent the structure into a four-unit condominium, while keeping the original character intact and matching the current aesthetics of the neighborhood.
As the first multi-family residential conversion project that Moser Construction had taken on, the building offered several challenges. The structure was in quite a bit of disrepair and need of restoration after sitting vacant since 2009, and borough officials required that the building facade not be altered from its original condition in order to maintain the exterior look and feel and remain true to history.
“The parish had stopped taking care of it, and when we got control of the building, we had to put a temporary roof on it, for when it rained, it would continue to rain inside for three days afterward,” said Owner and Operations Manager T.R. Moser in an interview with Philadelphia Magazine. “The biggest challenge was trying to use the existing space we had and convert it into four finished flats with a garage underneath.”
Critical to the success of the project was choosing the right high-performance windows that were built to withstand the test of time. Marvin Elevate Double Hung windows were selected to recreate the style of window that was originally installed in the school, helping to keep the character intact. The borough had an adaptive reuse ordinance for older buildings, and the custom-made, simulated mullions in the Marvin windows and the brand’s experience with historic restoration helped get the project through the permitting process.
“There were three architects on the review panel,” said Moser to Philadelphia Magazine. “It was nice to use a product that had such great name recognition. It was one less hurdle to jump over in a process that took a year to finalize.”
In addition to being able to meet the historic codes and requirements, Moser looked for a window that would provide the durability needed to withstand the test of time and the often harsh winters that plague the Northeastern part of the country. All building products utilized in the project needed to be flexible, functional and aesthetic, allowing Moser and his team to utilize as many original components of the building as possible, including old classroom doors.
The finished condominium units are a testament to the care and attention to detail that Moser and his team employed throughout the building process—offering a new identity to a building that was, and will always be, an important part of it’s Narberth neighborhood.
This project was the winner of a 2016 Red Diamond Achiever Award for outstanding and creative use of Marvin windows and doors.