Former school becoming Kempton New Church Home
Not-for-profit organization provides smaller, economical independent living for senior members of Kempton New Church
The former Albany Township Elementary School in Kempton faced an uncertain future when it was sold at public auction in 2015, but an exciting 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 school houses were moved to the new school. The building was substantially modified in the late 1980s and again in 2000, then mothballed by the Kutztown Area School District in 2013 due to changing student demographics. In July of 2015, just prior to the building’s sale at auction, the Albany Township Historical
Society gathered the community together to remember and honor their beloved school, its teachers and administrators, and the important uses these people and the building performed in this close-knit, rural community.
In March of this year, a not-for-profit organization called Kempton New Church Home, which is closely associated with the Kempton New Church on Hawk Mountain Road in 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 Kempton New Church. As in many parts of the country, and particularly in rural areas like Albany Township, finding a place to which to downsize is often 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 now – a problem that can 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. It is in the township’s “village center” zoning district, which permits the use being envisioned and would create no disruption to the township’s plan for the development of the neighborhood. Its location within the village of
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 now. Repurposing an existing building in the township, rather than building anew, made the property particularly attractive to the organization, the township administration, and to the community in general.
Kempton, rather than somewhere at a greater remove from neighbors and community life, including the Kempton Community Center and the post office, was attractive. Considered to be beneficial were the nearness of friends and neighbors who might want to get 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, the township administration, and to the community in general.
After rearranging some interior walls and making other modifications, the new facility, appropriately named The Old Schoolhouse, will include 11 oneand 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 usage 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. The hope is to have a few of the apartments available for occupancy by the summer of 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.
Former Albany Elementary serves as independent-living residences for senior members of Kempton New Church.