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Northwood School transforming old Main Street bookstore into innovation hub

Details revealed on $2.5M project

April 26, 2019
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Everything old is new again at the former With Pipe and Book shop at 2495 Main St. - at least in name only. Not "pipe" or "book" - but "hub." When Northwood School is finished with its building renovations here, it will be a hub of innovation.

After the building was constructed in 1915, owner Forrest B. Guild moved his business from the Clifford Block near the head of Main Street - currently the Black Bear Restaurant and Martha Day Realty - to his new building between Shea's market and F. G. Walton's hardware store. Groundbreaking was in July, and by early February 1916, he was moved in, ready to sell men's clothing, shoes, sporting goods and furnishings.

"The store will be known as 'The Hub' in connection with his personal name," stated the Lake Placid News on July 16, 1915.

Article Photos

The inside of the Northwood on Main Street project is seen here on March 28, looking toward the front of the building.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

There was no explanation as to Guild's name connection, but the business was known as "The Hub" for many years.

Guild operated the store until 1944, when he sold it to a syndicate from Syracuse. In 1957, the syndicate folded and the Shehadi family bought the building to relocate their linen and clothing store from another Main Street building.

In the summer of 1984, Breck and Julie Turner bought the building, renovated it, and moved their With Pipe and Book business from the Wanda building into one side and opened Julia's, a store specializing in children's wear, on the other side. Eventually, With Pipe and Book took over both sides, selling tobacco products and used and Adirondack books. The Turners closed their shop in 2007, and Northwood School eventually purchased the building.

In 2017, Northwood School officials announced they were going to tear down the building and construct a new one for their innovation hub; however, the new design will allow for a renovation instead of the destruction of the 104-year-old structure.

"The reason we talked about tearing this building down is we were going to have this huge atrium right here (in the middle of the street floor of the building) to bring light downstairs," said Tom Broderick, Northwood School's assistant headmaster. "We're engineering the building for our uses now by building the steel frame inside. But without that atrium, it's the reason we're saving the building. Plus, many people have encouraged us to do that."

The Main Street location is part of the school's strategic campus master plan, and it's one more opportunity to use a facility in the village as an educational tool for its students, according to Northwood School Head of School Mike Maher.

"I think that the leadership opportunity here is the most inspiring because of our sense of place," Maher said, "because of the opportunity to utilize the different assets in the Lake Placid area and the Adirondack Park to build educational experiences and programs that collectively create a curriculum that very few schools can match."

Students are used to spending time at other buildings around town. For example, the hockey teams use the Olympic arenas for practice and games; the school is building its new aviation science curriculum around the Lake Placid Airport; the Olympic venues are used for the physics curriculum; and the Lake Placid Center for the Arts is used for cultural activities.

"So I look at Northwood School on Main as just part and parcel of a thoughtful strategy to marry our interests and our resources with the community to serve our kids, of course, but also to make a concerted effort to serve the community's needs," Maher said.

Construction on 12,000-square-foot, three-story Northwood School on Main - as the building is being called now - began a few weeks ago and will continue in earnest through the spring and summer. Broderick said he hopes to have it complete by the end of September.

In a nutshell, school officials say this "flexible, open classroom and event space will be a center for real-world application, creative thinking and community collaboration, providing a hub for modern-day learning." Users will include students, faculty, alumni, and residents and visitors of the community. The hope is that people will use the space to collaborate and solve problems, creating partnerships and sharing ideas and knowledge along the way.

The cost is $2.5 million, which is being provided by alumni, families and friends.

"Two-point-five million dollars for a building with this much punch I think is a pretty fair price," Maher said.


Maker space

That punch will take many forms. It will be a technology "maker space," meaning people will be able to take a concept from design to fabrication, such as students involved in the robotics program at Northwood.

"It's a place where people who want to tinker, design and build can come and do it," Broderick said.

In addition to robotics, school programs that could use the space include innovation and design, entrepreneurial studies and L.E.A.P. (Learn. Engage. Apply. Perform.). One goal is to help the school offer an educational experience that emphasizes active learning and creating and one that challenges students to become resilient, independent thinkers.

One course that could use the space is Olympic Physics, which uses the Olympic venues around Lake Placid to help teach physics.

"We've been doing egg drops off the 90-meter ski jump for years," Broderick said. "So design a device that can protect that egg as you drop it without a parachute. ... You look at the bobsled, track, runners, anything that you design the physics around it."

Broderick was clear that this space is not just for Northwood students. It is also for the many families that visit Lake Placid for sporting and cultural events.

"For example, Can-Am (Hockey) comes in this time of year," he said. "Most of those families, one kid plays and one kid doesn't. One kid's a techie. Well, we're going to have programming for that kid on a weekend. So he wants to come and do VEX robots while his brother is playing in the ice rink, that's what we're going to be able to do."


Community space

Northwood School on Main is expected to offer programs for the community, including after-school, weekend and summer lectures, classes and professional development. There will be space for groups to meet and for special programs.

"In a two-hour radius," Broderick said, "we can connect with 15 to 20 colleges, so what we want to do is start having lecture series: climate change, quality of the lake, issues that are important to the Adirondacks. We'll bring in the outside professors. You can get a membership. You can be part of that and hear these lectures."


Building tour

On the morning of Thursday, March 28, before construction began on the Northwood School on Main project, Broderick gave the News a tour of the old With Pipe and Book store. A demolition team had already gutted the Main Street floor, and it was an empty shell, a blank canvas with only a few vestiges of the past. With daylight coming in through the unique windows in the front and the windows on the back porch, one could see the original cement blocks - painted black - that make up the walls. And the lettering "MORE BOOKS" was still present over the inside doorway to the basement.

Broderick walked on the original wood flooring while giving a tour of the Main Street level, starting in the front where a welcome desk will be located. In one corner in the front will be a rack of 3D printers. Again, this space is not just for students.

"One of the goals that I have is to offer night classes to, say, local contractors who want to learn 3D CAD (computer-aided design). If they can do that, they can model their own kitchens. ... They don't necessarily need an architect or an interior designer. They can work it themselves."

In a corner in the back, there will be a conference room where outside groups can meet in an area separate from the fabrication space. In another corner in the back, there will be "clean" fabrication hardware, such as a laser cutter/engraver, large-format printing and some of the routing or CAD-type of equipment.

"We envision this place being mostly dust free," Broderick said. "This is what you would see in most maker spaces where it's all digital computers. There will be lots of computers, lots of spaces for people to drop their laptops, lots of spaces for people to collaborate."

There will also be power drops from the ceiling for people to plug in their portable equipment, such as laptops.

"Let's say you want to fabricate," Broderick said. "You just pull the cord down, and right here they can build a robot."

The rest of the main floor will be dedicated to programming space.

Downstairs, in the front third of the building, there will be a fabrication studio.

"This is where you'll have your table saw, your drill press, anything that makes dust," Broderick said. "So for robotics, you want to actually design your part on a computer and then you want to mill it right on the spot. Then you can put it in the robot. So it's that kind of technology that we're going to bring to the floor."

There will also be a secondary fabrication studio with tools such as a hand-held plasma cutter, which cuts metal.

"Lots of work benches. Lots of power outlets," Broderick said. "You need a glue gun, you pull it out, you plug it in. You need a sewing machine, you pull it out, you plug it in."

There will also be a spray-painting booth and space to test drive drones and robots.

"It's not necessarily going to be a quiet space, but it's going to be a place where there is noise and excitement," Broderick said.

The third floor will be a wide-open, collaborative space where students can go off in a corner and solve problems.

"Maybe there's a conference table," Broderick said. "Maybe there's a cushy area. Maybe there's blocks of seats that seven or eight kids can sit around. Maybe there's a stand-up desk with computers on it."

Once Northwood School on Main is open, there will be nothing like it in the Adirondack Park. Broderick is confident that it will be an asset for the community of Lake Placid - its residents and visitors - as well as the school's students, faculty and alumni.

"It's a little bit of 'Field of Dreams,'" he said. "If you build it, they will come. I think that's really what we're going to see."



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