A beloved Chambersburg elementary school sold on the auction block Saturday, bringing in $600,000, according to John F. Kohler, Jr., of Gateway Gallery Auction, which handled the sale.
Built in 1908, the oldest school in the district was constructed by Franklin Keagy, who built hundreds of buildings in Chambersburg following the town’s burning in 1864. The school closed in 2008 after 100 years of students and has been vacant since 2018.
The 14,268-square-foot, two-story, brick building includes eight classrooms, two offices, library and restrooms.
The buyer of the school is Aaron Carmack, who currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I went to kindergarten there a number of years ago and spent a lot of time there during the summer,” Carmack recalled. “I still have family in Chambersburg and I own some other properties.”
Carmack said he has big plans for the school.
He and his business partner, Vern McKissick—who developed Rose Rent Lofts at the old Central Junior High—plan to develop it into apartments, while maintaining the historic character.
“We want to keep the exterior and interior as close to what it currently is but bring it up to date. We plan to restore the outside with the original cornices and big cupola on top of the building,” he explained. “We want to polish it back to the way it was.”
Carmack said he was attracted to the property because of its potential.
“There are portions of the building that were never finished that could be great finished spaces. On the back of building, there are 11-foot ceilings and none of that space was ever finished,” he said. There’s really cool things we can do to make it unique.”
Carmack said the zoning allows for apartments, but there are other permits that are required from the borough for completion.
“Realistically, it’s probably going to take two years to complete, but we plan to start work in it immediately,” he said.
Carmack and McKissick are also looking for the public’s help in the restoration process.
“We want to retain as much of it original as we can. If there are people who have pictures inside the classrooms and other effects that could help us preserve it, we will take all the help we can get,” Carmack said. “We do have the original plans, but it would be really helpful if folks can help us with any artifacts that would make this a more complete project.”
Those who are willing to share photos, artifacts or stories may contact Carmack at firstname.lastname@example.org.