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Updated: July 8, 2024

Housing development considered for century-old South Portland school

The city of South Portland is considering whether to convert a former middle school into a residential development that would include affordable housing.

Mahoney Middle School, at 240 Ocean St., closed for good last year. Last month, the City Council voted to hire Carl Cooke of Frontline Construction Management in Belgrade to consult on what the South Portland should do with the property, and options include proposals from the city and from the South Portland Housing Authority to create a mix of housing units.

Mahoney school is an old brick building.
Photo / Courtesy City of South Portland
The city of South Portland is considering proposals for converting a former middle school.

The property became available after the new South Portland Middle School opened last fall on Wescott Road. 

Since then, the city has heard proposals that include consolidating its offices at Mahoney, selling the property to create affordable housing or maintaining community space in the building. 

While the debate continues over what to do in the long term, the South Portland Parks and Recreation Department is using the building’s gym for summer camp programs. The city is also fielding inquiries about short-term rental uses for other parts of the building.

It dates back to the 1920s, according to Greater Portland Landmarks, which named the building to the group's Places in Peril list in 2017.

Located on a 15-acre lot, the Beaux Arts structure was originally South Portland High School, and served as the city’s junior high school in the 1950s. Later, it became Mahoney Middle School, named after Daniel J. Mahoney, a longtime principal at South Portland High.

The schoolhouse is a brick, three-story, 94,000-square-foot, U-shaped building. Features include symmetrical window pattern, a decorative sill, simple entablature openings, Doric pilasters and a flat roof with a detailed parapet. It was designed by the Maine architectural firm Miller & Mayo.

The building sits at the corner of a major transportation route into parts of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth.

It’s expected that Cooke will present his findings and recommendation to the council at an upcoming meeting, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 6.

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