Avenues West Association
Last Friday, September 5, Gorman & Company was awarded the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Historic Preservation Award for transforming Oregon’s historic Red Brick School into their office headquarters. The annual award acknowledges the best effort to preserve a historical property in Wisconsin.
“Taking something old and renovating it into a functional, innovative new space is at the core of what we do at Gorman & Company,” said Gary Gorman, President of Gorman & Company. “The Red Brick School has so much history and so much heart, we’re thrilled that our efforts to bring new life to the building are being acknowledged by the Wisconsin Historical Society.”
Originally built in 1922, the Red Brick School served Oregon for 70 years until the early 1990’s. Since then, it has been used solely for storage by the school district. In 1998, a group of concerned area citizens, led by Joan Gefke, successfully had the school listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the years, proposals have suggested everything from tearing the school down to any number of kinds of commercial use, but nothing stuck until Gorman committed to the project. Because historic renovation is one of the company’s areas of expertise, the rehab of the old school serves a dual purpose as the company’s office headquarters and as a showcase project for their quality craftsmanship and attention to detail.
“The reaction we’ve gotten from employees has been extremely positive,” Gorman said of the innovative new office space which included the refurbished basketball court, a 1950s-style diner that serves as a break room, a fitness room, and other amenities. “At the end of the day, that’s what is most important to us, and that’s what will help us attract and retain the best and brightest employees.”
Many components of the school have been salvaged and incorporated into the office, including wood doors and trim; Terrazzo and wood flooring; built-in cabinets and selected blackboards; and the original skylight openings. In addition, the windows have been replaced with historically accurate windows, and suspended acoustic ceilings were removed and replaced with drywall ceilings at the original heights.
The award was presented at the Red Brick School, 200 N. Main Street. The event featured remarks by Ellsworth Brown, Ruth Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society; Gary Gorman, President of the Gorman & Company; and Joan Gefke, a local Oregon resident who supported the project.