Seven Oaks School was part of a generation of school buildings designed by Kansas City School District architect Charles Smith between 1890 and 1935 that embodied Progressive Era ideals about education, health and safety. It opened in September 1927, just 10 months after construction started, to serve more than 400 elementary students living in the growing neighborhoods nearby. Local children attended Seven Oaks School for 70 years before it closed in 1997.
Over the next 15 years, the school sat vacant, suffering from neglect and vandalism. Windows were broken, pipes leaked and mold became rampant. In 2011 the Kansas City Public Schools Repurposing Initiative sparked efforts to find new uses for closed school buildings. Taking an innovative approach, the Repurposing Initiative considered not only the design and functionality of each building, but also the neighborhood vision and goals for the property. The Seven Oaks neighborhood sought a quality housing option that would keep older residents in the community even after they were no longer able to keep their larger family homes.
Seven Oaks Estates, a partnership between the Greater Corinthian Community Development Corporation and Midcontinent Equity Holdings, developed a plan to convert the historic school into 44 affordable apartments for seniors, using historic tax credits as well as affordable housing tax credits. Rosin Preservation worked with the development team and architects from the Central Design Group to ensure that the building’s significant historic elements would be preserved. The rehabilitation highlighted the building’s large window openings, wood trim and doors, and hardwood gymnasium floor. The historic classrooms, the gymnasium and a portion of the auditorium were converted into modern, comfortable one- and two-bedroom apartments. The stage, some original seating and decorative historic plaster in the auditorium were preserved as a shared community space.
The Seven Oaks Apartments were fully leased shortly after opening in November 2014. The development addressed not only the housing needs of neighborhood residents, but aids in ongoing efforts to stabilize and revitalize the surrounding neighborhood. Seven Oaks School has been a fixture of the community for over a century. Thanks to Seven Oaks Estates, it is poised to remain an important neighborhood resource for decades to come.
3711 Jackson Avenue
Kansas City, MO
National Register, Tax Credit