Riverbend School the construction zone has made its final leap to becoming Riverbend School, the campus. Located at 33 Eliot St., the K – 8, 200-student Montessori-method institution has finished the Upper School building and the gymnasium, the last of three major building projects that kicked off in 2014. Let’s just say it’s been a busy six years at Riverbend, which has had a presence in South Natick since 1986.
Designed by Piatt Associates Architecture, the Upper School contains three purpose-built lower elementary classrooms, as well as dedicated design and art studios. A stand-alone, full-size gymnasium provides plenty of space for indoor recreation, and will also generate revenue through rentals of the space. Both new buildings are located on the field adjacent to the Middle School, which is part of the historic Peletiah Morse Tavern, on Rte. 16.
“All of the buildings for the campus were intended, as designed, to be respectful of the character of the John Eliot Historic District and I hope the new buildings will be seen that way as well,” says architect Jim Piatt.
The two previous building projects, both also designed by Piatt, were Children’s House, completed in 2014; and the Middle School, attached to the tavern, completed in 2017.
Head of School Whitney Slade took time out of his day to give me a tour of the campus, which he said is “geared toward our kids, Montessori kids, the way they’re taught and the way they learn. In the Montessori method, big open spaces are needed.” Here are a few pics of how that was achieved:
All told, the school has put over $5 million into creating its new campus. The Natick-owned brick building the school worked out of for decades is now vacant. But with grades 4-6 located in Memorial Hall, Riverbend hasn’t completely crossed Eliot Street.
Slade is now focused on what September will look like for Riverbend. “We’re developing protocols to keep everyone separate,” he said. “We’re working with the Natick Board of Health with the goal of providing a safe learning environment for our students, their families, and our staff. We’ll miss out on field trips this year, unfortunately. Maybe we’ll go over to Elm Bank, since we can walk there.”
“And there’s always Forest Friday,” Slade said, pointing to the wooded conservation land the school abuts. “That’s very big here.”