Original wood and concrete floors remain, along with pressed tin on the 13- and 14-foot-high ceilings.
Hallways are decorated with slate chalkboards from the school, which closed in 2006.
Enlarged photos from old school yearbooks adorn common spaces. Even the red radiators can still be found (now decorative).
“We’re really proud of this,” said Casto partner Bill Riat, who grew up near the Merion Village school.
Casto workers weren’t sure what to expect when they started on the project almost two years ago.
But for once, the surprises turned out to be pleasant ones: The high tin ceilings and 20-foot-tall windows had been hidden behind dropped ceilings.
The top floor yielded the biggest surprise. When workers removed the dropped ceilings, they discovered the original ceiling was 26 feet high. Further demolition revealed that the space had been a gymnasium.
“You never know what you’re going to find, but this turned out to be fabulous,” Riat said. “The top floor was just a spectacular space.”
Casto converted the gym into six apartments, all featuring a loft overlooking a living room.
Outside, the building looks nearly the same as it did when it opened in 1900, although the space around the former school has changed dramatically.
In addition to converting the four-story school into apartments, Casto added 52 rental townhomes and 22 for-sale homes on the former school grounds.
Kimberly Hamrick, who grew up in German Village and now lives in Schumacher Place, bought one of the new homes for herself and her son, lured by the tax break and the prospect of urban living.
"I sincerely enjoy living in the city," Hamrick said. "The atmosphere of the (German) Village area, strolling the brick streets to the Book Loft, getting pancakes at the German Village Coffee Shop, or ice cream from Jeni's near the park. ... There is no other place in the Columbus area quite like it."
Hamrick attributes the area's vibrancy to the expansion of Nationwide Children's Hospital. She paid $420,000 for her home, which she knows might shock longtime residents.
"They are always amazed to hear that homes now sell every day in the Merion Village area for $300,000, $400,000 or more," said Hamrick, who is a real-estate agent with HER Realtors. "I believe the Barrett School project only enhances the values and supports the rising home equities that the area is seeing."
The Barrett apartments have rented quickly, with 86 percent of those in the former school spoken for and 65 percent of the new ones rented, according to Casto.
Rents range from $899 for a 516-square-foot garden-level apartment to $2,899 for a 1,648-square-foot two-bedroom loft apartment.