Connecting Students and Communities: A Case Study in Historic School Rehabilitation Vaux Big Picture High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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This project takes a multidisciplinary pronged approach to community development, schools, and historic preservation using a case study of Vaux Big Picture High School, a successfully rehabilitated historic Philadelphia school that was closed and later returned to use as a neighborhood school. Through partner involvement and the incentives of a HUD choice neighborhood grant, the new school has the funds and resources to create essential social, health, and employment support resources for the students and outside community. This case study demonstrates that the school building is an important neighborhood asset and has significance beyond its architectural style or design. In addition, a greater understanding of local history can be appreciated and understood through a broader inquiry into social and cultural community history. The goal of this paper is to encourage preservationists to consider designing spaces with possible community-serving purposes in institutional buildings such as neighborhood schools.