How SCH Construction Honors the Old and the New


Courtesy of SCH Communications

Whimsy Mark-Ockerbloom

The creation of the McCausland Lower School for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and renovation of both the Cherokee and Willow Grove campuses this past summer created new, modern spaces for students while honoring the historical influences of the existing spaces.

The McCausland Lower School building intends to mimic the appearance of three barns merged together, with windows and doors placed to convey the feeling of a large barn door on one end. The roofing is pitched more steeply than most buildings, as was the style of the Hewitt brothers who designed the Wissahickon Inn. Most notably, the stone used in the roofing is wissahickon schist, a stand-out feature of a major portion of buildings in and around the Wissahickon. This stone was taken from a still-open quarry that originally provided stone for the Inn, the Cherokee campus, the Vare field house, and later the Rorer science building in each building’s respective construction. The new building takes aspects from the original building, the Wissahickon Inn, without being a replica or a knockoff.

“We wanted to give a nod to the history of the region without trying to copy it,” said Frank Aloise, chief financial officer at SCH. “You know, you’re not going to build a Victorian building today.”

The newest McCausland building isn’t the only construction site for SCH, though. Stephen Druggan, SCH’s head of school, outlined a three phase plan for the entire SCH campus. Phase two was completed with the finished construction of the lower school. Phase one was the renovation of the fields and sports areas for students, including the creation of the tennis pavilion and turf. Phase three, as Druggan explained, was the restoration and renovation of the Wissahickon Inn.

The Wissahickon Inn, the oldest building of the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy campus, is defined by the shape and structure of the building, including the style of windows, turrets, roof design, and decorative paneling. Over a hundred years since its creation, the building requires some modern updates, including central air and heating, a change from fluorescent lighting to modern, natural lighting, and some cosmetic corrections of old attempts at repair and renovation. The intention of the reconstruction is not to make a new space, but remake an old space while preserving its new purpose and functionality.

“Our plan, like we did with the exchange last year, is to bring [the Inn] back to what it was best historically,” said Druggan.

The SCH campus is a modern example of history, an old space repurposed to be new. The future of SCH continues to reference the past. The history of SCH is reflected in the buildings, showing how changes occurred over time and focuses changed.

“There’s something classic and historic about these big stone buildings,” said Aloise.