Page 21 - Life and Times

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September 2013
The building above at Ridge Avenue and South Second Street
in Sharpsville was built in 1921 as a high school for grades eight
through 12. When the current high school opened in 1959, it
became the William P. Snyder Middle School, named for the
owner of Shenango Furnace Co. It was added onto over the
years, and the brick roofline was modified. It is now a privately
owned office complex known as the Trailblazer Building.
John Zavinski/Life & Times
hospitals are similarly hard to sell.
Sometimes the best offers on the build-
ing are less than what it cost the district
a year to keep minimal utilities running
for in mothballed building.
In Ohio, a program in recent years
helped fund the replacement of hun-
dreds of schools, often consolidating
them into K-12 complexes, such as
Brookfield’s new complex. Money from
the Ohio School Facilities Commission
came with strings: School districts had
to stop using the old buildings then sell
them or demolish them promptly. Most
were demolished.
Brookfield’s Stevenson Elementary
School was closed years ago but has
found new life as a restaurant. Steaks
and cocktails are now served in the old
gym, where pints of milk and bologna
sandwiches once were the order of the
Apartments are another common
conversion for schools, opening the
possibility that someone could spend
nights and days in the same place they
once spent school days.
Some old schools become offices. In
Sharpsville, a variety of business tenants
fill the Trailblazer Building, which had
been Sharpsville High School and later
Snyder Middle School.
Sharon’s Jefferson Street Elementary
School, one of the city’s iconic yellow-
brick schools from the first decade of
the 1900s, has found new life as the of-
fices of the Mercer County Housing Au-
thority. A similar building, Russell Street
Elementary on the West Hill, became
apartments but burned a few years ago.
A fire in the 1980s also claimed the
closed Lafayette Street Elementary, a
yellow-brick school on the West Hill.
Across town, decay is today claiming
the maroon-brick Wengler Elementary.
It was built in 1927 and last held stu-
dents in the mid-1980s. For a few years
it was the offices and a studio for the
now-defunct Continental Film Group.
The J.A. Farrell Elementary, which
looks a little like Wengler, sits empty in
Farrell after it had a second life as a se-
nior center. Further renovations got as
far as asbestos removal before a change
in plans moved the senior center else-
where, leaving the building just a shell.
There’s something magic in the
memories old schoolhouses hold, so
their demise – such as Case Avenue’s –
often brings more sadness than can be
offset by the joy that a gleaming re-
placement building brings.
That’s why it’s so reassuring when an
old school graduates into a new use. í
John Zavinski/Life & Times
Sharon’s Central School opened in 1903, and a junior high school was
added onto it in the 1920s. Today the 110-year-old building on Shenan-
go Avenue across from the Sharon post office is known as Lecture Hall
and is part of Penn State Shenango’s downtown Sharon campus.