Northwestern Press

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FILE PHOTOThis photo, published in the Northwestern Press in July 2015, was taken at the Albany Township Historical Society’s celebration at Albany Elementary School just before it was sold at auction. The then Albany Township Historical Society President Andrew Brett addresses the gathering. FILE PHOTOThis photo, published in the Northwestern Press in July 2015, was taken at the Albany Township Historical Society’s celebration at Albany Elementary School just before it was sold at auction. The then Albany Township Historical Society President Andrew Brett addresses the gathering.

Former Albany Elementary Township is sold

Thursday, July 6, 2017 by TOM KERR Special to The Press in Local News

Kempton New Church Home to convert school to senior apartments

The former Albany Township Elementary School, Kempton, faced an uncertain future when it was sold at public auction in 2015, but a new life for the property is on the horizon.

The original school building was constructed in 1958, and students and teachers from local one-room schoolhouses were moved to the new school.

Substantially modified in the late 1980s and again in 2000, the building was mothballed by the Kutztown Area School District in 2013 due to changing student demographics.

In July 2015, just before the building’s sale at auction, the Albany Township Historical Society gathered the community together to remember and honor the beloved school, its teachers and administrators, and the important uses these people and the building performed in this close-knit, rural community.

This March, the nonprofit Kempton New Church Home, associated with Kempton New Church, Hawk Mountain Road, Albany Township, purchased the 6.7-acre property.

The organization had been seeking property in the area to provide smaller, economical, independent-living residences for senior members of the church.

As in many parts of the country, and particularly in rural areas such as Albany Township, finding a place to live after downsizing can be difficult.

In anticipation of some of its older members perhaps being forced to move away to find suitable housing, the group decided to start addressing the problem — one that could affect the fabric of not only a church community, but the broader community, as well.

The purchase of the former school property made good sense for the Kempton New Church Home’s project for several reasons.

First, the building is in the township’s Village Center Zoning District, which permits the proposed use and would create no disruption to the township’s plan for development of the neighborhood.

Second, its location within the village of Kempton, rather than somewhere at a greater distance from neighbors and community life, including the Kempton Community Center and the post office, was attractive.

Also considered beneficial was the nearness of friends and neighbors who might want to become involved in some of the activities at the facility, the closeness to the beautiful Maiden Creek, and a great view of the Pinnacle and the Albany Township countryside.

As a bonus, the idea of repurposing an existing building in the township, rather than building anew, made the property particularly attractive to the organization.

After rearranging some interior walls and making other modifications, the new facility, now named The Old Schoolhouse, will include 11 one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 572 to 1,219 square feet.

The school’s original gymnasium, kitchen and media center/library will remain as areas for common use by the residents.

The plan is to complete and occupy the apartments, and then if there is demand, to eventually cluster several small cottages behind the building.

Pathways, gardens, porches and other amenities will be added.

A few apartments are expected to be available for occupancy by summer 2018.

Many of the fittings still in the building will not be needed for the apartments, so after the Kempton New Church, the Kempton New Church School, and the Kempton Community Center have determined what cabinetry, whiteboards and school furniture they can use, the remainder will be available for sale to the public.

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Editor’s note: Albany Township resident Tom Kerr is president of Kempton New Church Home Inc.