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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Room and Blackboard: School Renovation at its Best

School -- twenty-four hours.
By James Daly
Credit: McMenamins

Falling asleep in a classroom is definitely a no-no. But not at McMenamins Kennedy School, a former grade school that's now a thriving inn and nightspot in Portland, Oregon.

Despite the sybaritic offerings inside, Kennedy's exterior was clearly once a site of elementary education. The neoclassic exterior remains, looking like it's been plucked out of an episode of Leave It To Beaver. A flagpole flies the Stars and Stripes. But in the school yard, where tetherball once reigned, an outdoor patio sports a restaurant. Inside, the old girls' bathroom is a brewery, and classrooms are now cozy bedrooms, complete with original chalkboards and cloakrooms.

The Kennedy Elementary School opened in 1915 and served as a neighborhood anchor until it closed in 1975. Seven years ago, brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin began repairs on the aging property, adding a restaurant, a movie theater, and bars. Being held in detention never felt so good.

McMenamins Kennedy School
5736 N.E. 33rd Avenue
Portland, OR 97211 888/249-3983
www.mcmenamins.com

James Daly is the former editorial director of Edutopia.

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