Photo by Hugh Loomis

Brigadier General Hazel Johnson Brown Veterans Center

Not Just Anybody: HELP Philadelphia revived a 1920s schoolhouse into a modern assisted living community

This building will provide housing and support services to people in need. Its transformation from an abandoned building into an asset for the neighborhood and the city exemplifies the best kind of public-private collaborations.
David Cleghorn, Chief Housing Officer at HELP USA

This adaptive reuse project turned a historic 1920s Art Deco-style school building into affordable supportive housing for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. The renovated four-story Brigadier General Hazel Johnson Brown Veterans Center at HELP Philadelphia, formerly the General John F. Reynolds School, was renovated and restored thanks to a public-private partnership between the Jon Bon Jovi SOUL Foundation, HELP USA, and the Philadelphia Housing Authority as part of their Sharswood Blumberg Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. Local and state funding supported this project, along with numerous philanthropic donations from NGOs. There are 51 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom units in the building. Nine of the 55 units have been set aside for formerly homeless veterans and veterans with disabilities. The building has a community room, health-service spaces, and office space for supportive services’ staff.

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Square Feet:
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Historic, Multi-Family Residential, Seismic/Adaptive Renovation
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Primary Material:
Concrete, Steel

Project Highlights

  • Created a consistent slab-on-grade foundation and ground level in the building.
  • We studied the original masonry façade of the school to determine what type of CMU and grouting to use when restoring damaged portions.


Steven Krumenacker web

Steven Krumenacker

Principal, Wayne


I appreciate the collaboration process of what we do. There are so many different people in different disciplines—contractors, architects, developers, owners, engineers—that are taking a concept, an idea that is sketched-out, and turning it into a physical piece of the built environment.”

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