Project Summary
38th Street School Historic Renovation


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The Space
  • Historic Savannah Foundation 2023 Preservation Award
Square Footage 17,000
Location Savannah, GA
Built between 1900 and 1920, 38th Street School is an iconic two-story historic building located in Savannah’s Streetcar District. Its most recent occupant, the St. Paul Academy for Boys, closed its doors in 2014, leaving the school untouched for nearly a decade. Under new ownership, the building underwent extensive renovations to convert the existing classrooms, basement, kitchen, and other rooms into 27 boutique apartments, including studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom floorplans.

Pieces of the Historic Preservation Puzzle

To ensure the original integrity of the 100-year-old building is preserved while reviving it through the renovation process, the Choate team worked closely alongside the architect, LS3P Associates, and Ward Architecture + Preservation to implement best practices in historic preservation and deliver a quality product to the local market.

The project team was entrusted with maintaining as much of the original historical fabric as possible, including the wood floors, columns, and masonry walls. Materials that were significantly damaged were repaired with in-kind materials to match the existing finish, and all former mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems were replaced with modern equipment to meet current building codes.

Additionally, the owner, architect, and project team evaluated creative opportunities to reuse or repurpose the school’s doors and chalkboards, adding a creative design element to an already-distinctive building.


Incorporating New Design with Historic Preservation

In the process of adapting the historic building for residential purposes, new designs had to be incorporated into the preservation process. With only two of the original windows remaining as a template, the project team had to design and construct more than 90 custom windows throughout the building. The interior staircases that had been enclosed nearly 50 years ago were reopened to honor the school’s original design, an exterior lift and stair were added to make the basement units ADA accessible, and much of the stucco exterior and two-story column entrance were restored.


A black and white postcard was one of the only surviving images of the original building and was used as a guide by the project team to preserve the building’s exterior historical elements.

The original doors, walls, and transoms in the classrooms and administrative rooms were retained while new partitions, which housed all of the MEP systems, transformed the spaces into residential units. In the partially submerged basement, the project team had to completely rework the concrete slab for it to accept the updated finishes, but they were able to retain and restore the original wood tongue-and-groove ceilings.

Typical in historic preservation projects, 38th Street School presented the Choate team and its trade partners with another unforgettable opportunity to bring an important landmark back to life!


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Sugar Creek Charter School

Enriching the lives of neighborhood students through K-12 education, college and career readiness, and life skills for success.