BATH — The design of a new Morse High School is a vision of the future that reflects the legacy of the past.
Regional School Unit 1 this month unveiled a conceptual image of the building’s facade. The words “Morse” and “BRCTC” are placed in large letters on sides along the wall of the main entrance, acknowledging the union of the high school and Bath Regional Career and Technical Center under one roof. The arched window over the three entry doors is a nod to the current Morse High.
The top corners show the dates 1904 and 2020 – the first being the construction date of the original Morse High, named for businessman Charles Morse and destroyed by fire in the late 1920s; the school at 826 High St. was built as a result. The second date is the third school named after Morse, to be built on vacant land at the Wing Farm Business Park and opened in August 2020.
RSU 1 voters last November approved the construction bond for a new school by a 3-1 margin. The state is funding $67.4 million of the $75.3 million cost; $7.2 million is to be paid locally through borrowing, with $700,000 earmarked from fundraising.
The fundraising campaign has so far raised $450,000, RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said in an interview April 13.
“We’re making good progress, and we’re very appreciative of the donations so far,” he added.
More information on the project can be found through the Morse-BRCTC Building Project link at rsu1.org.
The new facade is arguably a far cry from the one presented prior to that vote, and criticized by some community members as resembling a prison in appearance. The exterior continues to be modified, and input is welcome through January 2019, Manuel said.
“That’s always a balancing act,” he noted. “Because if we modify something that the state won’t support, then it’s local money.”
The district is due to go before the Maine Department of Education May 9 for approval of the site work budget. That cost is still being reviewed by DOE, according to Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger Architects, the Manchester, New Hampshire, company RSU 1 hired to provide architectural and engineering services.
The project will soon afterward go out to bid for a site contractor, who should be on site by July to begin work. The work includes blasting, ledge removal, and clearing and leveling land.
The school will be accessed via Anchor Road, off Congress Avenue, with emergency access only from Wing Farm Parkway. RSU 1 has purchased one of two smaller lots to facilitate that connect, and is due in the coming weeks to close on both that and a 26-acre acquisition from the city of Bath, whose council approved the $277,500 purchase in October 2016.
The planned three-story building is to be nearly 186,000 square feet, a bit larger than the school and separate BRCTC combined. Morse has a population of 615, and the new school is to be built for 650.
Lamarre is due to update the RSU 1 Board of Directors on the site, and building exterior and interior designs, on Monday, April 30. That Bath Middle School meeting begins at 6 p.m.
This image shows the latest proposed facade of a new Morse High School, to be completed in Bath in 2020.