After 96 years on Northwestern land, Roycemore will move

Grace Johnson

For the first time in nearly a century, Northwestern will no longer be Roycemore School’s landlord.

Since the school’s beginnings in 1915, NU has owned the land on which the school stands, 640 Lincoln St. At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, Roycemore officials hope to be moved in to their new location at 1200 Davis St.

The pre-kindergarten through 12th grade private school’s search for a new school site began in the mid-’90s when NU put Roycemore on notice that their lease would not be renewed when it expired in 2014, said Eugene Sunshine, senior vice president for business and finance at NU.

“We wanted to give them the maximum amount of time they would need to move to a new location,” Sunshine said.

NU decided not to renew the lease because at the time, University leaders were thinking forward about the possible need to expand in the future, Sunshine said.

Roycemore’s lease was terminated Dec. 30 after school leaders closed the deal on their new 60,000-square-foot building. With the termination of the lease, NU also becomes owner of the Roycemore building, which the school will be leasing back from NU until they officially move locations, Sunshine said.

While NU has many potential uses for the building in mind, including the possibility of classrooms and dormitories, no concrete decisions have been made, Sunshine said.

There are many considerations in renovating the space, Sunshine said. The building is zoned as U-1, which has “pretty flexible” restrictions, Sunshine said. However, behind zoning restrictions, the building resides in the Evanston historic district, meaning any changes to the building’s structure would have to be approved by the city of Evanston.

Roycemore began as an all-girls school and became a coeducational school in 1962. The school’s building was modeled after then-contemporary schools in England.

As NU considers its options, Roycemore will in turn renovate its new building as well, said Joseph Becker, the school’s headmaster.

Renovations at the Davis Street building, which formerly served as the site of the General Board of Pension Funds for the United Methodist Church, will include the construction of a new gymnasium to be built on the south side of the building, Becker said.

With the new space, Roycemore also hopes to expand enrollment from its current numbers of around 260 to 350, Becker said.

Although Roycemore will be moving away from NU’s campus, leaders from both schools intend to keep the relationship intact.

“We’ve had a very nice relationship institutionally with Roycemore for years,” Sunshine said. “My colleagues and I were very impressed with the determination of Roycemore’s leaders to find a suitable new location and we’re pleased it worked out.”

NU assisted Roycemore in finding a new location, both financially and logistically, Sunshine said. An undisclosed amount of money was given to Roycemore to help with the associated costs in moving to a new location.

Academic programs between the two schools include Roycemore tuition discounts for NU staff and faculty, as well as an option for Roycemore high school students to take NU classes. Those will continue, both Becker and Sunshine said.

“We certainly look forward to maintaining a relationship with Northwestern,” Becker said.

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