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Redmond’s Successful Rehabilitation of a Local Historic Landmark

May 22, 2017

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By Scott Woodford

In February, the City of Redmond moved into its new (old) City Hall digs in the fabulously remodeled 1922 Redmond Union High School. From all initial reviews, it is a great place to work, a source of pride for the Redmond community and a model, adaptive reuse project, as the State recently recognized with a 2017 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award.

The new city hall is housed on the 1.24-acre school campus in downtown Redmond and consists of the 35,000-square foot, two-story, masonry school, built in the Renaissance Revival architectural style, and a separate 1944 gymnasium. The school is designated as a Local Historic Landmark and the gymnasium is National Register eligible.

After using it for over 80 years, the buildings were vacated by the school district in 2010 and the City purchased it a year later. In turn, the City marketed it to commercial developers to convert it into a revenue producing use through adaptive re-use. McMenamin’s was contacted to see about their interest. Others looked at it, but the cost that it would entail to bring it up to current building code (seismic and asbestos) were ultimately deterrents.

Around the same time, the City was outgrowing its existing City Hall and began investigating building a new facility. It soon dawned on officials, though, that it would cost about the same to build a new building as it would to remodel the old high school (around $12 million). So, in 2014, the Council gave its support to the remodel project, thus sparing it from neglect or, worse, demolition.

Preserving the historic integrity of the building, while remodeling it into a modern and technologically innovative public facility was the primary goal. One of the most important early decisions was to hire firms very experienced in remodeling historic properties – FFA Architecture and Interiors and Skanska Construction. The final product is a beautifully preserved and rehabilitated exterior.

The completely remodeled interior preserves many of the school’s unique features, such as the windows, interior doors, chalkboards, stair railing, and exposed brick. Large collages of old yearbook photos grace the large hallways outside of the Council Chambers and each office space is recognized with a plaque and pictures denoting which classroom originally occupied the space.

This will be a building that will continue to serve the community for another 100 years.

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