12 December 2022- A Chambersburg landmark since 1908, the former Mary B Sharpe Elementary School at 850 Broad Street has new owners and looks to get new life breathed into it. Real estate developers Aaron Carmack and Vern McKissick purchased the property at auction from Gateway Gallery Auction for the sum of $600,000 recently.
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.
Carmack, who is from Chambersburg but currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, was recently quoted saying “I went to kindergarten there a number of years ago and spent a lot of time there during the summer. I still have family in Chambersburg and I own some other properties.”
Carmack and McKissick plan to develop the building into apartments while still maintaining its historical nature. McKissick is a well known name for real estate development in the Chambersburg area, having successfully developed the Rose Rent Lofts at the former Central Junior High on S 3rd Street and Queen Street in the borough.
McKissick told Gateway Gallery Auction after the sale “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. We want to polish it back to the way it was.”
“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,” said Carmack about the development. “There’s really cool things we can do to make it unique.”
Carmack and McKissick plan to take their time to develop the property and get all required permits. Although it is currently zoned for apartments, other permits and procedures have to be followed. This gives the developers a two year timeline going forward, but they reportedly plan on starting soon.
This endeavor is meant to be a public one, though, according to Carmack and McKissick. While they are hoping to develop the former school into a modern and reliable apartment building, original character has to be maintained according to Carmack.
“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.”
If you have photos, artifacts, stories, or more contact Aaron Carmack by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.