Cincinnati's first public school to reopen its doors — as an apartment complex

Posted at 8:28 PM, Aug 12, 2016

CINCINNATI --The former home of Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts, will become a different type of home in September when the Alumni Lofts apartment complex’s first tenants move in.

Residents of the building’s 149 apartments will find heirlooms of its past life, such as Rookwood water fountains, built-in lab cabinets and even a gym pole, integrated into the refurbished interior of their new digs. The new property managers feel that this will give each living space its own individual character.

"Every apartment's unique,” said Chald Selke of Alumni Lofts. "Some of them will have a blackboard; some will have a historical built-in or cabinet.”

One will include a stage once used for performances.

“We uncover a little bit of history every day,” Selke said, and neighbor David White agreed.

The building's heritage is not just about the arts, although the SCPA was its last tenant. The original Woodward High School was the first free public schools west of the Alleghanies, and a home built nearby sheltered hundreds of fugitive slaves each year as they followed the Underground Railroad to Canada.

“Honestly, it’s one of the most important pieces of land, historically, in the entire region,” White said.

Alumni Lofts, which honors the site's history and invites its tenants to create new stories of their own, will open Sept. 1.