James L. McKeown School

City of Beverly pays tribute to former CPF managing trustee

Following unanimous approval by the Beverly City Council, the Beverly School Committee voted in November 1997 to name the city's new elementary school at Cummings Center the James L. McKeown Elementary School, in honor of Cummings Properties' late president and former managing trustee of Cummings Foundation.


Mr. McKeown was instrumental in introducing Cummings Properties to Beverly in December 1994. He led the company's negotiations for and subsequent purchase of the former United Shoe Machinery Corporation's headquarters from The Black & Decker Corporation.

In November 1996, just four days before he suffered a heart attack while running, and died at age 41, Mr. McKeown met with Beverly officials at Cummings Center. He there agreed in an informal Saturday morning meeting that Cummings Properties would donate much of the additional land that the Commonwealth determined was needed for a new elementary school, adjacent to what is now 500 Cummings Center.

The balance of the land needed for the school was to have come from a land swap in which Cummings had earlier agreed to accept the land on which the former McKay School building was located at the corner of Balch and McKay Streets. After Mr. McKeown's tragic death, however, Cummings agreed to donate all of the needed land, in consideration of the new school being named in Mr. McKeown's memory, and Cummings gave up its rights to the McKay land. The naming followed approval from the Beverly School Committee and a unanimous vote of the Beverly City Council.


Ironically, the former McKay School was built in 1904 to accommodate the influx of new Beverly residents in conjunction with the opening of "The Shoe." The school was originally named the Winslow School after one of the USM founders. Years later, it was renamed the McKay School in memory of another USM founder.

The McKeown Elementary School hosted grades K through 5, but it didn't host them for very long. Recently, the Scanlon Administration decided that it really didn't need a neighborhood school on Balch Street and in a cost-saving move it closed this school and one other. In September 2008, the facility became the [McKeown Alternative High School].

For more information about Mr. McKeown and his tenure as president of Cummings Properties, click on Cummings Foundation. For information on the major new Interstate 93 highway interchange named in Mr. McKeown's honor in his hometown of Woburn, Massachusetts see Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 92 of the Acts of 1999.


200 West Cummings Park
Woburn, MA 01801

Beverly 978-922-9000 Woburn 781-935-8000