HOLYOKE — LightHouse Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke announced it has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for the historic Congregation of the Sons of Zion building in downtown Holyoke. The agreement establishes a 120-day inspection and planning period to determine the viability of the move.
LightHouse is a personalized, competency-based middle and high school now in its eighth year in its current location in the STEAM Building at 208 Race Street in Holyoke. LightHouse’s tagline is “changing what school can be.”
“The location is perfect for us. It’s in great shape for a 120-year old building, but it will need extensive renovation to come up to code for a school and to meet our needs,” said Catherine Gobron, co-founder and executive director of LightHouse Holyoke. “It’s exciting. This could be our new home. We hope it will be.”
Current renovation estimates are being drawn up and are expected to run well into the millions of dollars, Gobron added. “We’re in the beginning stages of applying for grants and preparing for a capital campaign to fund all the work that needs to be done.”
LightHouse has grown strategically during its eight years, from a program serving 36 students in its first year, 2015, to its current enrollment of 75 students. Students come from towns and cities across the Pioneer Valley, including Holyoke, and as far away as New Haven, Conn. Almost half of the student body are Holyoke public-school students who attend LightHouse full-time through a public-private partnership, a model for innovation for school districts everywhere.
The plan for the school, according to Gobron, is to remain small, growing to not more than 120 students. The move to a permanent home would allow LightHouse to reach that goal possibly within its first 10 years. “If everything comes together, we see ourselves there by 2025,” she said.
The Sons of Zion building is located at 378 Maple St., on the corner of Cabot Street, diagonally across from Holyoke Library Park and the Holyoke Public Library. It has been the home of the Congregation of the Sons of Zion since 1904.