HAVERHILL — The effort to transform the Cogswell School building into a community arts center has gotten a boost in the form of a $200,000 grant from the state.
This means the Creative Haverhill organization has reached a significant milestone in the capital campaign "Reinvent Cogswell.''
With the addition of the $200,000 grant, Creative Haverhill has so far raised more than 80% of its $2.5 million goal, and the purchase of the building will happen this month, organizers of the arts center said. Creative Haverhill hopes to complete the campaign by the end of the year and begin renovations to the building at the start of 2020.
"Haverhill should be extremely proud that this is the first Haverhill-based organization to be selected in the history of the fund," said Creative Haverhill board chair Danielle Smida.
Because the $200,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for the arts center is a matching grant, Creative Haverhill must raise an additional $200,000 in order to get that state money, Smida said.
The city is selling the old school building to Creative Haverhill for $175,000, said Erin Padilla, project manager for the Reinvent Cogswell campaign. The campaign is being run by Creative Haverhill, a nonprofit arts group.
Padilla said the goal is to preserve the school, which was built in 1891, and retain as much of its historic character as possible. The plans are to update the building's HVAC, fire suppression, plumbing and electrical systems, and renovate former classrooms to create gallery space, artist studios and arts classrooms.
"While the plans for programming within the space aren't completely set in stone, the plans are to host a juried exhibition space, along with community rental rooms, art rooms for adult art classes, arts/STEAM after-school clubs, youth vacation camps, artist studio rental rooms, ceramics studios, and a wood shop/makers space," Padilla said.
The effort to turn the former school into an arts center will keep the historic property accessible to the public.
Cogswell's proximity to the newly completed Bradford Rail Trail along the city's riverfront will provide easy walking or biking access between the arts center and Haverhill's expanding downtown.
The Cogswell building is also within walking distance of two MBTA commuter train stations with direct access to the Boston arts scene, with multiple trips each day. Amtrak's DownEaster commuter train also makes daily stops not far from the old school.
The capital campaign's latest fundraising event is "Bach to Broadway" — a concert of classical and musical theater vocal selections to be performed June 15 at the Renaissance Golf Club, 377 Kenoza St. Proceeds from the event will count towards the matching grant amount.
The concert will feature classical vocal selections and songs from musical theater catalogs. Eight professional musicians from the Haverhill area will perform songs including, "Till There Was You," written by Meredith Willson for the musical play "The Music Man" (1957); "Almost Real" from the "Bridges of Madison County"; the classic Italian aria "O Mio Babbino Caro" ("O My Beloved Papa'') from the opera Gianni Schicchi (1918) by Giacomo Puccini; and a libretto by Giovacchino Forzano.
Featured performers include Aliana de la Guardia, Susan Consoli, Lauren Sprague, Sara Sturdivant, Heather Butler, Risa Annicchiario, Jennifer Onello and 13-year-old Jonathan Uber. The event will offer light refreshments and a silent auction from 6 to 7 p.m. Musical performances are from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Tickets, at $40 per person or $75 for a pair, can be purchased at bachtobroadway-reinventcogswell.eventbrite.com.
Visit online at www.cogswellartspace.org.