President Kurt Cuts Ribbon on “The Center” at 9 Dane

November 9, 2022

The ribbon cutting of Montserrat’s new building at 9 Dane Street was recently covered in the Salem News by Staff Writer Paul Leighton. Continue reading below:


Photo by Jamie Campos

BEVERLY — As the owner or renter of 18 buildings, Montserrat College of Art has a significant presence in downtown Beverly. On Friday, the school staked an even larger claim.

Montserrat held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 Dane St. for what it is calling The Center at Montserrat. The college bought the building, a former funeral home, last year and has transformed it into a welcome center, student center, wellness center and facilities headquarters.

Montserrat President Kurt Steinberg said the building is the place where prospective students will begin their tours, commuter students can mix with dormitory students, and students can go for counseling. He said it is located in the exact geographic center of Montserrat, which includes the main Hardie Building on Beverly Common and several other buildings in the area that serve as residence halls, academic and office space, and art studios.

“When this came on the market it just seemed like a real obvious asset that we needed,” Steinberg said. “I wanted a new front door to the institution.”

The building, located at the corner of Dane and Knowlton streets, was a funeral home for decades before closing a few years ago. Steinberg said it was also once the parsonage for the Dane Street Congregational Church across the street.

Montserrat bought the building last year for $1.285 million, according to deed records. Steinberg said the college raised $300,000 in a two-week period to go toward the purchase, then raised another $200,000 for renovations. The spacious 2½ story building was built in about 1900, according to city records.

One of the most significant uses of the building will be as a place where students can go for counseling, at a time when the need for mental health services among college students has skyrocketed. The wellness center will be staffed by a full-time psychologist and a part-time nurse.

Elisabeth Reickert, the college’s director of counseling, said the new center provides more privacy for students, who previously would seek counseling at the Hardie Building.

“It demonstrates the school’s commitment to student wellness,” she said. “It sends a message that the entire school community cares about their well-being.”

The building will also house admissions, philanthropy and student affairs, with a student center on the second floor. The building’s lower level is now the headquarters for the facilities department.

Steinberg said moving those departments will open up space in the Hardie Building at 23 Essex St. and the Bare Gallery at 248 Cabot St. for more studio space for students. The college has about 375 students.

Mayor Mike Cahill called Montserrat College of Art an “incredible asset” to the community and the local economy, and said the new campus center will add to the vibrancy of the downtown.

“Montserrat College has long been and hopefully will continue to be for the long term an integral part of our downtown and greater community,” Cahill said.

Cahill, state Sen. Joan Lovely and state Rep. Jerry Parisella joined Steinberg in cutting the ribbon. The opening came just a week after the college announced that Steinberg will step down in January to become the new chief operating officer of Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.

“This was on the to-do list,” Steinberg said. “I’m glad we were able to get it done.”