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Go Back to Class at Bass Lofts, Former School Turned Rentals

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Here now, Past Lives, in which new Curbed contributor Chris Berger explores what some of the country's most interesting residential buildings used to be before they became livable homes. Care to suggest a building with a fascinating past life? Do drop us a line.

Who says you can’t go back to high school? Not the residents of Atlanta’s Bass Lofts. Of the complex’s 133 units, about three-quarters were chiseled out of a former secondary school, and reminders of the site’s educational past are everywhere. The stately three-story brick building was built in the 1920s, an era when schools were designed to psychologically beat pupils into submission before they even walked through the doors. It originated as a junior high before it morphed into Bass High School after World War II. Shifting demographics led to its closure in 1986 before it was reborn as a preservation-minded housing complex in 1998.

? The interiors of the renovated structure carry many signs of its educational past. Inside the main entrance, the bell that roused so many students to class is still there, as are a row of lockers, a trophy case, and a box office window.

? Instead of containing a disciplinarian, the principal’s office houses a water heater. The nearby nurse’s office is now someone’s kitchen, and the faculty lounge is a bedroom. The classrooms have been converted into one-bedroom lofts, complete with original doors, windows, and floors. A few units include the school’s built-in cabinets and chalkboards.

? A stretch of wooden seats has been preserved in the auditorium, as have the murals of dancing ladies painted as part of a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression.

? From the outside, the 1949 brick gym, with its 30-foot-tall ceiling, looks little changed from its school days, but it has been spliced into two-bedroom lofts. The wooden bleachers and painted basketball court floor remain and leave no questions as to its original function.

? But not all is old at the Bass Lofts. Modern amenities include a courtyard pool, organic garden, dog park, laundry facility, workout spaces, and a newer, 30-unit residential building.

? And what would a high school experience be without readily available alcohol? Bass Lofts is steps from the edgy Little Five Points and its assorted drinking establishments. Or, for those who want a true high school experience, there’s a Chevron around the corner that sells Natural Light.

Prices range from $885 per month for a studio, to $1,745 for a two-bedroom, 2.5-bath unit.

· Bass Lofts [official site]