Schoolhouse Lofts

Baldwin City, KS (2017)

704 Chapel Street

The Baldwin City Schoolhouse Lofts occupy the building that was formerly the Baldwin City School. The 30,966 square-foot building was originally built in 1922 and served as part of the public school educational system in Baldwin City until spring 2011, a span of 89 years. Building configurations and grade levels evolved to accommodate educational and population needs. In 1987, remodeling work was completed to update many of the interior spaces of the Baldwin City School and the adjacent Auditorium/Gymnasium. The attached 1950’s elementary school wing to the east was sold to a church and disconnected in 2013. In 2014, the Baldwin City School and Auditorium/Gymnasium were sold to a private developer, the Krsnich Investment Group, LLC. Rehabilitation in 2017 converted the school to an apartment building with 30 affordable housing units.  

Primary considerations in the rehabilitation were to maintain the original hallways and stairways and construct apartment units within the former classrooms in a way that preserved their large spatial characteristics. To achieve this, original classroom doorways were reused, and aluminum storefront doors were installed between hallways and stairways to maintain sight lines and provide smoke control in case of a building fire. Walls of bedrooms and closets are not full height to the tall ceilings, but in multi-bedroom apartment units, glass was installed above the 8-feet high walls for sound privacy.  HVAC units are located on platforms built above bathrooms to conserve floor space.  New wood flooring, carpeting, and tile were installed on upper stories, and original concrete floors were polished and finished on the first story. 

The loft-style apartments include updated appliances and amenities, while preserving the historical characteristics of the school. There are twenty 1-bedroom units, eight 2-bedroom units, and two 3-bedroom units. The apartment complex is located near Downtown Baldwin City and is just blocks from Baker University, Kansas’s oldest four-year university. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. It also won the 2018 Preservation Award from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. 

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