OLD READING SCHOOLHOUSE CONDOMINIUMS
FIRE-WATER-WEATHER AND CODE REQUIREMENTS PRESENT
UNIQUE CHALLENGE FOR LANDMARK ASSOCIATES
By Scott Szycher, BRAGB Business Development Mgr.
In June of 2017, a fire enveloped several units of
the four-story, 40-unit Old Reading Schoolhouse
Condominium building, which had been converted
from a school to a community center, and finally to
a residential complex in the 1980s. The building was
up to code and had sprinklers in its hallways and
stairwells, but not in the individual units, which were
not required at the time of the condo conversion.
That’s part of the reason the fire spread quickly
through the building’s ceilings and through
interconnected construction voids created during the
original conversion to condominiums. The result was
a 7-alarm fire that involved firefighters from Malden,
Stoneham, Boston, Melrose, Wakefield, Lynnfield,
Cambridge, Everett, Lynn, North Reading, Medford,
Woburn, Somerville, Burlington, Winchester, and
Saugus, in addition to Reading’s own fire department.
To douse the flames, these firefighters collectively
used 1.5 million gallons of water.
But that amount of water also came with a steep
cost: the water damage, in combination with
significant smoke damage, resulted in damage to
every condominium unit in the building, including
extensive mold damage. Further complicating
matters, workers and contractors could not enter the
structure until insurance adjusters and inspectors had
released the building for remediation – a process that
lasted for six months, leaving the building’s interior
exposed to the elements, and adding exponentially
to the damage.
At a recent Builders and Remodelers Association
of Greater Boston (BRAGB) site tour, Scott Wolf,
Managing Partner of BRIGS, LLC , who manages the
condominium, spoke candidly about the challenges
involved with the reconstruction and preservation
of such an historic building, where there were
still grooves in the stair treads from years of use by
students when the building had been a school. “We
The aftermath of the fire.