By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
SHREWSBURY – Community members flocked to the old Beal Early Childhood Center in Shrewsbury this past weekend for a sale on furniture and other supplies left behind after the school permanently closed earlier this year.
For many, this marked a unique opportunity to get one last look at a school many know well.
“A lot of people came for the nostalgia of things,” said Shrewsbury Public Schools employee Christine Mattero. “And a lot of people came really to shop for some furniture and some things that they needed to use.”
Beal school boasts long history
The Beal school opened in 1922 and was used for a variety of purposes throughout its history.
It closed earlier this year as the town finalized construction of its new Maj. Howard Beal Elementary School on Lake Street.
The School Committee has since declared the building “no longer necessary for school purposes.” That vote formally ceded Beal back to the Town of Shrewsbury, which is in talks with developers over plans to renovate the structure as a mixed-use, commercial and residential property.
The old Beal parking lot, meanwhile, has been made available as new public parking for the Shrewsbury Town Center.
Furniture sale brings back memories
As conversation about the old Beal school’s future moved forward, the building sat still full of school supplies.
This furniture and supplies sale, held on Oct. 16, aimed to help begin clearing the space.
Community members happily obliged, according to district central office staff working the event.
“A lot of people came just to buy something from Beal,” said Dotty Flynn.
“Everybody who came through had a story to tell about how they themselves came here or their children came here,” added Mattero.
Welcome messages on walls remained, as did cubby labels and name tags above coat racks.
The school’s old gym bustled with activity as guests browsed heavier furniture that was piled there.
“I can’t look in that gym without thinking of sitting on the floor with my kids for singalong,” Mattero said of her own memories of Beal.
Guests seek a piece of history
This recent sale attracted buyers from other public school districts as well as private schools and nonprofits.
Local residents remained plentiful, though, in the lines of individuals waiting to pay for everything from desk chairs to an umbrella that one guest found.
“It was [about] coming back here for the nostalgia,” said Merriellen Standish-Moroney in the parking lot outside Beal after a district custodian helped load a heavy shelf into her car.
She said her husband, Michael Moroney attended Beal as a student in the late 1950s. He first saw an advertisement for the sale and wanted to make sure he got a piece of the old school.
Michael and Merriellen live in town, Merriellen said. They recently bought their family’s farm in Spencer, though, and plan to bring a number of the items they just purchased at Beal to that farm.
Merriellen said she also planned to contact a local 4 H camp in Spencer to see if she could donate any furniture to them.
Leftover furniture goes to nonprofit
Leftover furniture was set to get picked up by a local second hand furniture nonprofit according to April Yu of the Shrewsbury Public Schools.
In the meantime former students, their parents and others connected to Beal say they’re glad to have been able to visit the historic building once again.
“Lot’s of good memories,” Tatiana Lisin told the Community Advocate as she loaded her car.