Preservation Magazine, Fall 2015

Place Setting: Restaurants in Former Schools

The Bristol Pub

photo by: Becky Tillet

The Bristol Pub

1604 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80905
719.633.2555 |
$$ | American

Once, drinking beer inside a classroom at Ivywild School would have earned you detention. But the former elementary school, built in 1916, closed in 2009 due to declining enrollment and reopened four years later as a multiuse dining and community center, with Bristol Brewing Company and The Bristol Pub occupying the building’s north wing. The brewery’s owners teamed with a local restaurateur to purchase and renovate the blond brick building. They retained the exterior columns and pediment, exposed the original brick walls, and left murals and handprint tiles (created by students in art class) intact. The old gymnasium, with its 1916 basketball court, and the Wildcat Room, a former classroom named for the school’s mascot, are available for groups and ­special events.

Try the Laughing Lab Scottish Ale, the brewery’s flagship ale.

Webster's Restaurant

photo by: Design Ranch

Webster’s Restaurant

1644 Wyandotte St., Kansas City, MO 64108
816.221.4713 |
$$$$ | American

Webster School, one of the oldest surviving public school buildings in Kansas City, opened its doors to students in 1886. The Romanesque Revival structure was designed by Manuel Diaz, the first architect hired by the Kansas City Board of Education. The school closed in 1932 and served various functions for decades between bouts of vacancy.

In 2000, local philanthropist Shirley Bush Helzberg purchased the building and initiated a multimillion-dollar restoration. The project retained the school’s original footprint, uncovered old chalkboards, and re-created the original bell tower, which had been removed for safety reasons in the year after the school was built. It reopened in 2002 as Webster House, a mixed-use venue, with Webster’s Restaurant on the second floor. The eclectic menu includes fried green tomatoes and Kansas City steaks.

The Courtyard Restaurant at Kennedy School

photo by: Kathleen Nyberg

The Courtyard Restaurant at ­Kennedy School

5736 N.E. 33rd Ave., Portland, OR 97211
503.288.2192 |
$$$ | American

The final school bell at Kennedy Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, rang in 1975. Enrollment was declining, and the building, completed in 1915, needed many expensive repairs. After years of vacancy, a group of neighbors, former students, and local leaders rallied to fight off demolition threats and find a new use for the building. Popular brewpub chain McMenamins purchased and restored the entire property in 1997, keeping the original chalkboards, bas-relief wall panels, and kid-sized drinking fountains. “When people walk in here now, they think it’s still a school,” says Renee Rank Ignacio, McMenamins’ director of marketing. The former cafeteria is now home to the Courtyard Restaurant, with wooden booths and a copper-top bar.

The menu, an upgrade from the room’s original cafeteria offerings, includes seafood, pastas, and salads, along with beers made at the on-site brewery.

$ = Value, $10-19 per person
$$ = Moderate, $20-29 per person
$$$ = Expensive, $30-39 per person
$$$$ = Splurge, $40+ per person

Lauren Walser headshot

Lauren Walser served as the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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