Barnes School Apartment, East Boston, MA127 Marion Street, East Boston, MA

Residential: 74 units for low income elderly or disabled residents
Commercial: Adult Day Care,  Neighborhood Health Center
Financing: HUD / MHFA, LIHTC, Home
Property Management:  Metro Management Company

Property Manager: Lisa Gallotto

Phone # 1-617- 569-4620 Fax # 1-617-569-3524

The Barnes School Apartments’ renovation and construction of 74 units of affordable elderly housing, adult day care and cultural center was the first development in the community utilizing HUD 202 funding with low income tax credits and historic tax credits.  This property has commercial space for an Adult Day Care and other activities of East Boston Health Centers Inc. Other features include bright, new medical offices and a rehab gym, as well as access to the building’s scenic rooftop deck where activities and cookouts take place.

Development Cost: $23 Million

Barnes SchoolThe Barnes School Apartments in East Boston was completed in June, 2007 and it quickly achieved 100% occupancy. The development was unique in that it utilized mixed financing that included HUD 202, Low Income Tax Credits, as well as Historic Tax Credits.

This approach allowed the sponsor to decrease the amount of HUD funds needed for the project. In addition, the sponsor was able to increase the number of affordable units from the original 55 HUD 202 affordable units to 74 affordable units, an increase of 35%. The sponsor was also able to utilize a portion of the non-HUD funds to establish a 72 client adult day care center and other supportive services within the building.

The Barnes School received the 2008 Preservation Achievement Award from The Boston Preservation Alliance.  This project has successfully achieved its goals in creating affordable housing for seniors, breathing new life in an old-world neighborhood, and restoring a historic building in the City. In a neighborhood that was once highly skeptical of the benefits of low income housing, this development has solidified the good reputation of EBCDC, Inc. and also of HUD and its programs.

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s Barnes PACE Center, the most recent addition to the Elder Service Plan family, is located in a beautifully renovated school that now houses elderly apartments. The Barnes PACE Center is an adult daycare facility and has a vibrant, fresh environment with a large activities area that includes a baby grand piano. Other features include bright, new medical offices and a rehab gym, as well as access to the building’s scenic rooftop deck where activities and cookouts take place.

Barnes School Jerry Gray Poster
Jerry Gray & His Orchestra


The Joseph H. Barnes Middle School is a monumental Renaissance Revival building located in a quiet residential neighborhood. Built primarily of buff colored brick, the three-story school sets atop an imposing granite basement on the face of a steep hill. An eight bay portico with tall Ionic columns graces the recessed front entrance of the building. The Barnes School served as the East Boston High School from its construction until 1926. The city built the school to serve East Boston’s rapidly expanding population brought about by intensive immigration throughout the 1890s.

The National Register of Historic Places

Barnes School Auditorium
The school auditorium is now a community room. Photo courtesy of National Parks Service

Some of the students from East Boston High School might now live here. The school was built in 1901, renamed the Joseph H. Barnes School in 1926, and operated until the 1980s. With help from a Historic Preservation Tax Credit, it was converted into affordable housing for seniors. A $16 million renovation project made the century-old Renaissance Revival style building look brand new. The project converted classrooms and offices into apartments, turned the auditorium into a public community room, and changed the gymnasium into an adult day care center. The renovation also included exterior masonry cleaning and repair, added an accessible entrance and elevators, replaced deteriorated windows, retained marble wainscot and original flooring, and retained corridor plans on all three floors.

2008 Notable Neighborhood Preservation Achievement Award

Barnes School Award
2008 Notable Neighborhood Preservation Achievement Award

In 2008 The Boston Preservation Alliance selected The Barnes School for the 2008 Preservation Achievement Award.  “The Alliance congratulates you on a terrific project – we are extremely impressed with the quality of work, the complex financing of the project, and the positive impact on the community.” – Susan Park, President.

Project Description:

The Barnes School was originally built in 1898 with an addition added in 1926.  It was abandoned in the mid-1980’s and left without heat or upkeep.  the conversion to elderly housing started in 2005 with abatement.  The Owner and Architect were committed to maintaining the historical integrity of the building as they converted it to 74 units of elderly housing, with a spacious community room and elderly daycare service spaces, thus returning the building to its original historical splendor and enriching the surrounding East Boston neighborhood.  An underground parking garage was added under a portion of the building.  This creative adaptive re-use allowed East Boston to regain a cultural and architectural icon.

Project Significance:

The existing structure was an eye sore to the neighborhood with its boarded up windows, graffiti on the walls and unkempt facade.  The neighbors were wary of the constant break-ins and loitering.  The renovation revitalized the neighborhood and provided the East Boston elderly population with a safe, affordable and beautiful housing option.  The building itself was transformed back to the its original turn of the century magnificence with its marble paneled walls, terrazzo floors, vaulted plaster ceilings and abundant ornamental plaster.  The existing exterior ornamental fencing was restored and that, coupled with the extensive masonry restoration and the new historically accurate windows, make the building a true East Boston gem.