Ivywild School

photo by: Austin Harley, SoCo Home Photography

January 17, 2018

You'll Want to Get Sent to the Principal's Office in This Former Elementary School

  • By: Lauren Walser

Every class at Ivywild School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is recess.

From the outside, the blond brick building still looks very much like a classic elementary school, which is what it was from the time it opened its doors in 1916 until declining enrollment led to its closure in 2009. And that could have been the end of the school. But the owners of Colorado Springs’ popular Bristol Brewing Company, Mike and Amanda Bristol, saw the vacant school and had an idea.

Along with another local entrepreneur, they purchased the 20,000-square-foot building and began renovating it. They retained exterior details like the four tall columns and pediment at the main entrance. Inside, they exposed the school’s original brick walls and wooden ceilings, and kept the original lined floors in the former gymnasium. Along the hallways and inside the restrooms, the team kept all the murals and handprint tiles, which were created by students in art class.


photo by: Austin Harley, SoCo Home Photography

The main hallway at Ivywild School.

The school officially re-opened in August 2013 and quickly became a popular gathering place in Colorado Springs’ Ivywild neighborhood. Still called Ivywild School, it now houses a mix of eateries, retail spaces, and creative offices. (We gave you a quick peek into Ivywild School in the Fall 2015 issue of Preservation magazine.)

On the north side of the building, there’s Bristol Brewing Company and Bristol Pub, with a bar that overlooks the fermentation and brewing rooms. There’s a full menu of bar snacks and sandwiches and a long list of seasonal and specialty beers on tap, in addition to the brewery’s five flagship beers. And the Bristol Dry Goods Store, just off the school’s main entrance, sells brewery merchandise.

Next door to the Bristol Pub is the Wildcat Room, a former classroom named for the school’s mascot, available special event rentals. The school’s original gymnasium is also available to rent for event space.

The school’s former principal’s office on the south side of the building now houses The Principal’s Office, which serves specialty coffee drinks and cocktails, with special Detention Hour deals during the week.

The Old School Bakery in the room next door offers fresh breads and pastries, as well as full breakfast and lunch menus.

Axe and Oak, a whiskey distillery, occupies space in the school’s lower level, along with Loyal Coffee Roasters.

Finally, there’s Yobel Market, a small shop that sells handmade and ethically-sourced gifts, accessories, and home decor items.

It’s an eclectic mix of businesses, which is what makes Ivywild School work. That, and there’s no detention for drinking a beer inside.

Lauren Walser is 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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