From runts to rents, monumental Norman School in KC withstands test of time

Beneath The Bricks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The regal and massive stone structure of the Norman School stands as a testament of time in the historic Valentine Neighborhood and next to a busy Southwest Trafficway.

While this roadway is heavily used, for years, the school was not. Constructed in 1906, the massive former elementary school was converted into a resource center for Kansas City Public Schools in 1951, according to the Kansas City Public Library.

Then in 2006, the district sold it to Del Properties, under which it sat vacant and unused. Other than a fire from a squatter, little happened inside the structure until renovation finally began 10 years later.

The Norman School Lofts finally opened in 2018. From young students to young adults, this building is now re-inhabited, but as lofts instead of classrooms.

Apartments have taken over the former gym locker room, principal’s office and classrooms. What used to be a playground on a grassy area is now a pool in the center of the building’s parking lot.

Pieces of the past are still preserved in the lofts’ interiors.

Stone bricks of the past literally have embedded themselves in the new homes. You can see where the old meets the new in the apartment additions to the south side of the building. Old and new stones are merged together, and what was once the outside wall now helps divide up space inside. Original stonework serves as both structural and aesthetic features in these modern lofts. 

The renovation retained other features of the old school as well.

The stairs have original railings, where diamond-shaped knobs once kept unruly kids from sliding down the bannisters. Paintings of games even hang on the walls, giving the lofts a playful feeling akin to the youth that used to run the same halls. 

The main difference is that the modern inhabitants are carrying briefcases instead of book bags, and rent is no child’s play. Singles start at $1150.

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