New life proposed for Carlisle School’s ‘Mistake Room’

For years the large, oddly-shaped “Mistake Room” in the Corey Building has been used only for storage. On February 12 the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) thanked the Carlisle Education Foundation (CEF) for breathing life into a proposal to convert the space into a new room for the instrumental music program. 

The first floor storage area was created when the builders accidentally blasted in the wrong area for the foundation, making it larger than had been specified in the plans. Located across the hall from the exercise room, the Mistake Room has roughly 1,400 square feet of space, only one window and a ceiling two stories high. 

O’Shea said that last year the CEF funded a feasibility study by TBA Architects of how the room might be repurposed. As part of their study, the architects spoke with school personnel including O’Shea, Building and Grounds Supervisor David Flannery and School Business Manager Susan Pray. 

05aMap CoreyLowerFloor

The Carlisle School is considering a renovation of the 1,450 square foot Mistake Room in the lower level of the Corey Building. The result of a construction error, the room is now used for storage. (Plan adapted by Marjorie Johnson)


The May 2017 TBA report notes that about half the exterior wall is above the grade of the hill on which the building stands, providing the opportunity to add windows. The report suggests: “After a review of the full school plan, existing spatial adjacencies and evaluation of uses that would make sense programmatically and functionally, TBA recommends consideration of the instrumental music program as the primary beneficiary of the added space.” It also notes that the location of the space would be convenient for use by any of the “specials” classes. 

TBA recommended two main options for conversion of the Mistake Room. Option 1 would create a two-story high instruction room for instrumental music, as well as an additional area which could be configured as either a storage room, or else three small one-story practice rooms with a storage room above them. In the latter case, the storage room would be accessed via the existing adjacent staircase. The total estimated cost is $255K, or $260K with the inclusion of the practice rooms.

The second option proposed would split the Mistake Room into two floors. In this case, a large multi-purpose room would be on the lower level, underneath a band room with a ceiling roughly ten feet high, with practice and storage rooms similar to Option 1. Depending on whether a new elevator is required for this plan, the second option with two full floors is estimated to cost between $492K and $698K.

It was explained at the CSC meeting that Option 1 was preferred, one reason being that instrumental music teacher Kevin Maier preferred the acoustics possible in a two-story-tall band room. 

“Know that there’s no money allocated to this project yet,” said O’Shea. He explained the school is working with CEF and the Municipal Facilities Committee to explore the proposal further. 

O’Shea thanked the CEF for supporting the renovation and paying for the feasibility study. CEF member Alyson Becker later explained that the non-profit organization expects to undertake a major fundraising effort for the project. 

CSC member Josh Kablotsky, who chairs the Municipal Facilities Committee, said that there are two points to consider before making a decision about the project. First, he wondered if there might be any negative ramifications to increasing the overall square footage of educational space if the town ever wanted to go back to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for financial aid for a future building project. Second, he wondered how the renovation would increase maintenance costs. 

CSC member Melissa McMorrow pointed out that there was a School Building Committee to oversee previous renovation projects. During the last major renovation, the School Building Committee included a representative from the Board of Selectmen and townspeople with building expertise, as well as representatives from the CSC and school personnel. O’Shea said that there are plans to do that over the next few months, before the funding is in place. “We want all the players in the room together,” he said. ∆