Cranberry razes dilapidated school
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As Cranberry's assistant manager put it, "Nobody's happy about it, but we're realists."
Duane McKee was speaking of the demolition Monday of the historic Johnston School House, a 162-year-old one-room schoolhouse along Mars Road, just north of Route 228.
The only thing that was salvaged were some bricks that were taken to the public works building to be used in the new Kids Castle playground that later this year will to replace the Playtime Palace structure in the Route 19 municipal park.
Strategic planner John Trant Jr. said the township went through a lengthy evaluation process that involved an engineering study and determined there were "no viable options" other than razing the structure. "It's a hazard and a nuisance," Mr. Trant commented, noting that the structure itself was unstable and that it was evolving to a dumping site. "A couple of weeks ago, a big piece of furniture and garbage was found on the site," he said.
Mr. McKee said demolition began early Monday and was finished by day's end. The process was approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which issued a permit because of the age of the building and the fear that dangerous substances such as asbestos might be disturbed. Mr. McKee said no asbestos was found.
The 20- by 25-foot building, one of six one-room schoolhouses in the township, was built in 1851. It served as a private residence for the Meyerl family for about 40 years until it was abandoned 15 years ago. The building is near the Spring Meadows and Grandshire housing developments.
Mr. McKee said the township took ownership of the property after the surrounding land was bought for development of the Cranberry Commons shopping plaza. "We tried to take some steps to preserve it in 2000 and 2001. There was some minor maintenance that we did and some repainting and we installed a small security system. But, the foundation is crumbling and it would be too expensive to make it safe," he said. Repair costs were estimated at upwards of $15,000.
The prospect of moving the building also was evaluated, and Mr. McKee said that cost would likely have exceeded $100,000. In 1999, the township moved the former one-room Sample Schoolhouse from Rowan Road to the municipal center complex along Rochester Road where it is operated by the Cranberry Township Historical Society.
Roy Wagner, president of the society, said members reluctantly supported the township's decision. "We didn't want to see it go down, but there aren't really other options," he said.
First Published January 24, 2013 5:14 am