Friends School of Portland moves to $3.5M ‘Passive House’ building in Cumberland

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 1

CUMBERLAND — After nearly a decade in Falmouth, the Friends School of Portland starts the new school year Sept. 8 with 100 students and a new, state-of-the-art, energy-efficient building at 11 U.S. Route 1.

The independent school, which offers pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade classes, successfully raised the nearly $2.5 million it needed, out of a total $3.5 million cost, to construct the 15,000-square-foot building that sits on a 21-acre, largely wooded parcel.

The Quaker school is Maine’s first school certified as a “Passive House” building, and only the third in the U.S., according to the Friends. The building, designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects and built by Warren Construction Group, does not use fossil fuel for energy.

Solar gain – an increase in temperature from solar radiation – is used along with air ventilation to heat and cool the building.

“We’ll be producing as much energy as we need,” Head of School Jenny Rowe said Aug. 20.

John Wasileski and the Oceanview Retirement Community in Falmouth plan to donate solar panels to the school. They will own those for the next six years while the school pays the electric bill, after which the panels will belong to the school.

Much of the wood used in the school’s meeting room came from the trees cleared for the building; other large logs are used as natural components of the school’s playground. Orange and blue paint provides lively accents.

“One of our fifth graders came for a visit, and she said, ‘I love that orange stairway – what a bold choice!,'” Rowe said.

The school, which starts its 10th year this fall, leased space from the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing on Mackworth Island in Falmouth since 2006; that lease expired this summer.

Students and parents helped pack for the move, and load, unload and clean items.

“This is such a community effort,” Rowe said. “It feels like such a great welcome.”

Enrollment this fall will be up 9 percent from last year, she said.

A benefit concert for the school will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9. Log onto, call 781-6321, or email for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Jenny Rowe, head of school at Friends School of Portland, outside the Quaker school’s new distinctive orange-and-blue, passive energy building at 11 U.S. Route 1 in Cumberland. The school had been in Falmouth since 2006.

Mackworth Island building needs work

FALMOUTH — Carter Hall, the Mackworth Island building formerly used by Friends School of Portland, will remain empty for the time being.

David Sherry, executive director of the Maine Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Baxter School for the Deaf, said there are some physical plant issues with the building that must be addressed.

He said the goal will eventually be to rent that space to another tenent, and not necessarily grow the school for the deaf.

— Colin Ellis

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.