Children’s home to sell campus

August 16, 2011

S. HUNTINGTON AVE.—The Home for Little Wanderers announced today that it is putting its 3.5-acre Jamaica Plain campus up for sale.

The children’s home sought to redevelop the 161 S. Huntington Ave. facility, known as the Knight Children’s Center (KCC), three years ago. But now the Home is developing a site in Walpole instead.

“The costs of renovating or replacing the Jamaica Plain campus would be prohibitive,” said Pam Herbst, vice-chair of the Home’s board, in a press statement.

“It’s important for people to realize this is all going to take time,” said Home spokesperson Heather MacFarlane in a Gazette interview, explaining that the KCC is “not going to be gone tomorrow.”

MacFarlane said no buyers are in place yet. The KCC site was assessed by the city last year as worth about $8 million.

Redevelopment could undergo special city and state reviews. The KCC includes a historic 1914 school building built by the Home, which was founded in 1865. The back of the property abuts the Jamaicaway, a historic state parkway.

The Home is based in the Fenway and operates a wide variety of programs for troubled youths across Greater Boston. It is unclear whether any program locations would remain in Jamaica Plain after the KCC sale. But for now, everything is staying the same, including the Home’s annual toy drive, said MacFarlane.

KCC serves youths ages 5-13 who have “emotional, behavioral, educational and psychiatric needs,” according to a press release. The site includes a Home-run private school.

The move to the Home’s Longview Farm in Walpole will place the children in a more “bucolic” setting, said John Hailer, the Home’s board chairman, in a press statement.

Ground has broken on expansion at the Walpole site, MacFarlane said. That will include a new school building and residences.

For more information, see the Aug. 26 Gazette.