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An Old Macy's Was Turned Into A New High School In Vermont And It Still Looks Like A Store

A Macy's in Burlington, Vermont, has been converted into a high school after problems at the old school building.

Posted on March 9, 2021, at 11:58 a.m. ET

Miranda Ljung-Baruth

It's been a strange school year for everyone, but high school students in Burlington, Vermont, recently restarted in-person classes in a very unique environment.

An old Macy's department store in the city has been converted into the new Burlington High School after the old school building was closed due to chemical contamination concerns.

On March 4, students entered the new "Downtown BHS," which still has many touches that let you know it was once a place to shop.

Levi's signage remains up behind school desks, a student in the foreground sits wearing a face mask
Miranda Ljung-Baruth

To get to class, students get to take an escalator. Some of the classrooms are in what used to be different sections of the store.

Student Miranda Ljung-Baruth, 16, told BuzzFeed News there are now classrooms with Calvin Klein, Levi’s, and Ralph Lauren signage. There's also a Michael Kors sign in the new cafeteria.

Shelves display reading materials under a Ralph Lauren sign
Miranda Ljung-Baruth

The fitting rooms, meanwhile, have been converted to bathrooms.

Fitting rooms sign
Ava Ploof

And library books are displayed on old merchandise shelves.

Cat Cutillo/Seven Days / Via

"My first day was super weird. It felt like walking around an airport," Ljung-Baruth said. "It was all polished and there was no natural light, but I’m getting used to it now."

She also said that even though it's a bit drafty, it still beats remote learning.

She posted a TikTok showing what it's like inside the school.

Fellow teens are very amused.


According to WCAX, the conversion took 10 weeks and had a $10 million budget. The old school closed in September, and they're planning on using the converted Macy's as a temporary location for up to three years.

The old Macy's touches are very much on purpose, the school's principal, Lauren McBride, told BuzzFeed News.

"When we were designing spaces, we wanted to pay homage to the fact that this was a Macy’s instead of trying to hide that fact or cover it up, so we deliberately left some of the old fixtures and signage and worked to incorporate them into our new learning spaces," she said.

"We want to recognize that while converting an old Macy’s into a school may be different or odd- we are embracing that this is really unique and fun."

Aria Batten

"Honestly it feels genuinely better than the old BHS campus. You can truly feel how much time and effort went into building it," Aria Batten, 16, told BuzzFeed News.

"They truly thought out the safety and construction behind it, and it makes me feel really good."

You can have a look at the finer details in this video from SevenDaysVT.

View this video on YouTube

Cat Cutillo/Seven Days

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.