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Visions for Vacancies: Johnston School in Wilkinsburg Is for Sale

What would you suggest as a reuse of this former elementary school?

Johnston School in Wilkinsburg is on one of the prime corners in the borough, near the start of the Lincoln Highway (Route 30) and close to the Parkway East (I-376).

Wilkinsburg School District closed the building at the start of the 2012-13 school year. PRC Commercial Real Estate is handling the sale.

According to the book, "Wilkinsburg," part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series, all but the first floor of the first Johnston School at the site was destroyed by fire in 1920. The new Johnston School was built in 1922 and added two stories to the first floor.

The land on which the school is built belonged to Gen. John Johnston and was part of his farm. The land was donated to the school district by one of his grandsons, James L. Johnston, the book states.

Also of note, on the playground wall to the right side of the building is a plaque honoring Beth Lynn Barr, the Wilkinsburg school girl who was kidnapped on her way home from Johnston School in 1977.

So, what do you envision as this building's future? Should it be turned into a private or charter school? An office building? Apartments? Or do you see another use for this land? Tell us in the comments section.

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Melissa Waldron February 18, 2013 at 03:42 PM
The Charter school in Penn Hills is looking for a K-8 campus
Brett Crawford February 19, 2013 at 01:24 AM
It would make an excellent community arts space for after school work and adult classes in the evening.
Jennifer February 20, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Check out the Johnston School's For Sale Profile here: http://www.wilkinsburgcdc.org/real-estate/properties-for-sale/for-sale-1256-franklin-ave
Zena Ruiz March 01, 2013 at 09:04 PM
I second this idea! I would love to see a space where young students can have an "outlet", so to speak. Outlets could be in forms of drawing, painting, printmaking, found object sculpture classes (see local Homestead emerging artist, Vanessa German, for reference to this idea), and gardening for those who are hands on in their learning; spoken word, music, or dance for those who are more performative; "handwork" (finger knitting, sewing, crocheting and knitting) for the little ones and interested older "fashionista(o)s"; and perhaps even have a mentor program. As for evening adult classes, those proceeds could easily be reinvested into the programming and upkeep of the facilities. They say location is key and because of this building's location, artists, teachers, students, staff, and adult clients would easily access the gem of a campus. I will say, there will need to be an effort in involving the direct Wilkinsburg community on this effort. But I feel it would be much adorned.

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