Kingsley Montessori School is housed in two separate, historic buildings in Boston's beautiful Back Bay neighborhood. The buildings are one block apart; one is located on Fairfield Street and one on Exeter Street. They are nestled between the lovely Commonwealth Avenue Mall in one direction, and the bustle of Newbury Street in the other.
26 Exeter Street, Boston
At the corner of Newbury Street, half of a block from Commonwealth Ave, sits Kingsley Montessori School's Elementary campus. The historic building has a varied and interesting past, and is now serving the community in a way that seems most fitting—as a school. Originally constructed as the First Spiritual Temple of the Working Union of Progressive Spiritualists between 1883 and 1885, it has since served as the Exeter Street Theater (operational from 1914 to 1974), as well as a combination of offices, retail, and restaurant space.
Initially, Kingsley Montessori was housed solely at the 30 Fairfield location, and before that, as "The Kingsley School" on Marlborough Street. It wasn't until 2005 (67 years after the founding of the The Kingsley School, and 19 years after the advent of Kingsley Montessori School), that the Exeter building was added as part of campus. In that year, Kingsley rented the first 3 floors of the school to make room for its expanding elementary program.
In 2014, with support of the Board of Trustees, Kingsley launched its first ever Capital Campaign. The Evolve Campaign enabled Kingsley to occupy the fifth floor of Exeter and engage in a top to bottom renovation to transform the Elementary building and facilitate programmatic and enrollment growth.
As of 2018, Kingsley Montessori occupies five floors of the 26 Exeter Street building. The basement level of the building, and adjacent "sun porch" area are still restaurant space, occupied by Joe's American Bar and Grill. Kingsley occupies the majority of the building, including the main entryway, lobby, and open spaces between what had previously been office and retail space.
In 2014, Kingsley expanded to occupy the 5th floor, and simultaneously undertook a massive renovation to bring the added floors in line with school standards.
In addition to the necessary improvements to infrastructure, Kingsley also focused on creating learning spaces conducive to collaborative, as well as independent, learning. The fifth floor is now home to the Upper Elementary program, as well as the Library, the Fifth Floor Innovation Center, and a number of offices, Project Studios, and Learning Carrels.
Renovations of the Exeter building have allowed for enrollment growth, and the introduction of expanded, school-wide programming initiatives. Exeter is home to state-of-the-art Visual and Performing Arts Studios and Innovation Centers and Spaces; these spaces are equipped with robotic gear, a 3-D printer, video editing equipment, and green screens, among other useful teaching technologies.
Upon entering the building, a comfortable lobby space occupies the truncated first floor, with a stairway to the right, and an elevator to the left, to bring you to the second floor and above. The second floor serves as the community space, and also houses the Visual and Performing Arts classrooms, and a number of administrative offices, including the Head of School's office.
Lower Elementary Levels
The Lower Elementary program is housed on the third and fourth floors of the Exeter
building, alongside an Innovation Space, our Kindergarten Entry Program (KEP) classroom, and a number of spaces for working in small groups or with support staff. KEP is designed for students who are new to Kingsley, and entering during their Kindergarten year. It's a two-year program that helps new students transition into the Lower Elementary program afterwards. The KEP classroom is housed on the third floor, along with two Lower Elementary classrooms, and their Project Studios. The fourth floor is home to three more Lower Elementary classrooms, and our Science Lab.
Each classroom in the Lower Elementary program is outfitted with an attached Project Studio. These are small rooms attached to the classroom that can be used for group project work, small-group lessons, or as a breakout space during regular work blocks. Among these classrooms, there is also the Third Floor Innovation Center, which serves multiple purposes. This multi-use room is outfitted with sinks and kitchen space; moveable racks of science and engineering equipment; cabinets filled with creative materials; and a selection of foreign language learning activities. These spaces are instrumental in the creative, project-based work that our Lower Elementary students engage in on a regular basis.
In addition to these classroom spaces, the fourth floor is also the location of our Science Lab. Students from all levels of the Exeter building make the trek to the fourth floor when it's time for Science class. This wonderful area is filled with hands-on, creative materials for students to explore the physical world around them. It's common to see circuits and wiring, microscopes and slides, plants and soil, and a whole plethora of household materials and objects that hold secrets to the workings of the world.
Upper Elementary Level
One floor up, on the fifth floor, our Upper Elementary classrooms are found. This floor is also home to our Fifth Floor Innovation Center, the Elementary Library, Learning Carrels, Project Studios, and a number of offices for Co-Curricular teachers and support staff. Students make their way through the school, progressing through Lower Elementary, and up the stairs to Upper Elementary. With the Science Lab, Library, and Visual and Performing Arts Studios all located throughout the building though, students have opportunities to make the most of every area of the school.
The Upper Elementary level consists of three classrooms, situated around the outside edge of the building with expansive windows and plenty of natural light. Similar to Lower Elementary, each of these classrooms has their own Project Studio for small group work, or lessons. There is a distinct difference to how Upper Elementary is set up, though. While in Lower Elementary, the Project Studios are directly connected to the classrooms; in Upper Elementary, the Project Studios are located in the center of the floor, across the hallway from the respective classroom. This allows students more independence and responsibility as they grow, which fosters their ever-improving work habits.
The fifth floor is home to one of our most exciting spaces, the Fifth Floor Innovation Center. This area is where Engineering, Design, Technology, and Natural Science come together to create some of the most complex and impressive projects we've seen.
This space is used in a number of ways, and is outfitted to be ready for just about anything. With a smart screen, an abundance of outlets, robotics, wiring, 3D printing, iPad video recording and editing, and every manner of hands-on school supply, students are always coming up with more interesting, helpful, and creative design ideas than we can keep up with. Each year, the Upper Elementary students participate in a Design Fair to show off their new inventions and describe how they will help the world.
The Exeter building is located conveniently near Newbury Street, Commonwealth Avenue, and the MBTA Green Line via the Copley or Hynes Convention Center stops. Kingsley campus can also be reached from the Orange Line and the Commuter Rail via the Back Bay station.
This location allows for easy access to the Boston Public Library, the Mary Baker Eddy Library and Mapparium, Boston Common, the Clarendon Street Playground, and much more. Research opportunities, historical buildings and monuments, and beautiful green spaces combine to create a vibrant learning environment for our students.
Come Visit Us
Kingsley Montessori welcomes you to attend an upcoming event to learn more about our school and campus! New events are added throughout the year, so check back or get in touch with us for more info.
Written by Jamie Lacroix