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Spirit runs high for Blanchard School rebuild

By Rod Lee

Renovation of the former Virginia A. Blanchard School on East Hartford Ave. in Uxbridge—now well along—is one way to appreciate seeing the historic structure being turned into one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

Another is the enthusiasm of those involved in the work, led by Sugrue & Associates, a commercial construction and civil engineering company located in North Scituate, Rhode Island.

A groundbreaking ceremony held recently at the two-story wood-frame building, which dates to 1873, drew a good-sized crowd including several town officials and “people who used to go to school there, their children, uncles,” Dottie Russo, office manager/assistant project manager for Sugrue, said.

This excitement will propel the project forward, Ms. Russo said.

“We’re about forty percent done,” she said. “Our completion date is targeted for December. The exterior work, if I remember correctly the owner (Michael Sugrue) said that will be finished in the next three to four weeks.”

Ms. Russo noted that all affected are “happy it is being transformed into affordable housing, and we’re keeping the existing maple floors, the bead board and the king cupola on top. I think it’s amazing, building something new but also keeping much of what’s there.”

The Blanchard School was enlarged from its original footprint in 1900 and served as a public school until it was closed in 2002. The hip roof and clapboard siding were distinguishing features. It was the oldest district school still in use in the state until taken out of commission.

Sugrue’s reputation in its field of expertise is enhanced by such other housing projects as the Noral Apartments in Dorchester, the Woods at Wareham, the Hamlet Apartments in Newton and 7 Forbes St. in Worcester.

The Blanchard School fits nicely as part of that scenario, Ms. Russo said.

The apartments will be “very spacious,” she said.

“Some of the lenders are from Boston. They are used to high-end stuff. They were blown away by what they saw,” Ms. Russo said.

One woman looking ahead to the grand opening later this year told her “I don’t care if I have to take a sled to get here!”

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.



Conversion of the former Blanchard School in Uxbridge into apartments proceeds toward a December completion date. The building dates to 1873.