This historic building has served many purposes in its long life—opening in 1916 as the St. Joseph Academy, a Catholic school, and then later becoming St. Paul’s Elementary School. The Navy used the structure as a United Service Organization or USO facility until 1976 when a lease agreement allowed the YMCA to operate there until 1992. A local developer and entrepreneur collaborated with local city officials to propose rehabilitation of the abandoned structure into 20 market-rate housing units. The City of Portsmouth supported the adaptive reuse with streetscape improvements.
The Classical Revival structure is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing structure to Portsmouth’s Downtown Historic District, so sensitive restoration was needed. Each unit offers character and charm including some with 20-foot ceilings, exposed brick, and large windows overlooking a cityscape with harbor views in the distance. A fitness center provides indoor exercise options for residents. The downtown location is within walking distance of an historic movie house, restaurants, shops, and other benefits of urban life.
Points of interest about this property: VCC provided construction financing and a permanent loan on this project, which created 130 construction jobs. Also, the building is located in an Enterprise and HUB Zone.