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Transition complete: Graystone to open doors & showcase what’s inside

October 15, 2012

The ribbon was cut Monday morning for Graystone Court Villas at the former location of the Mary A. Wilson Elementary School. Pictured at the ceremony are (from left): Jodi Presloid, vice chair of the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce; Tracy Miller, manager of Graystone Court Villas; Jeff Long, developer of Graystone Court Villas; Marlene Lellock, executive director of the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce; and Ben Pfeufer, chamber board member. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — If you’ve been driving or walking down East Mahoning Street over the past year, you may have wondered what the changes look like inside the former Mary A. Wilson Elementary School.

This weekend, you’ll get your chance, as an open house will be held at Graystone Court Villas Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Jeff Long, the developer of Graystone Court, said he was able to transform the former school into beautiful apartments through ideas he developed at his 11 other Graystone locations.

“We have crown moulding, pillars and flowers and clouds painted on the ceilings of the first-floor entrance and hallways,” Long said, adding that one of his painters paint the clouds and flowers by hand on the ceilings throughout the complex.

“It took her approximately three months to paint all of this in our Punxsy apartment complex,” he said.

Long said the main entrance is considered to be in the school building, because that is where all of the common space is located.

Graystone utilized some of the former school’s landmark rooms, such as the library, which was transformed into a game room, and the cafeteria, which became a magnificent dining room with huge chandeliers.

“Most of the groups, when they get together, will use the dining room because it is usually for a banquet or dinner,” Long said, adding that there is a recessed ceiling that was installed and gives the appearance of a panel ceiling of an elegant dining room.

He said renovating the school building into apartments was quite a challenge.

“If I had to do it over again I would probably tear it down instead,” he said.

“Trying to create new openings and convert the classrooms into one-bedroom apartments was quite the challenge,” Long said.

The open house is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, he said.

Long said he’s expecting a large crowd of curiosity-seekers to come and check out his latest endeavor, which contains 73 units, with all of the two-bedroom apartments located in the tower.

He said there are 18 heated garages, which are an extra charge to rent, and about half of those are already rented, along with about half of the apartments.

The decorating ideas, which include some beautiful paintings and some musical instruments on the walls throughout the first floor, were his creations, Long said, adding that the project did wrap up about three months behind schedule because the remodeling of the school took a little longer than expected.
“It actually took us longer to renovate the school building then it would have to build a completely new building,” he said.

Long said that this is his 12th Graystone Building, and he is currently constructing another one in Bellefonte.

“Tyrone was our very first building, and it was an old school that we renovated. We went back two years later and added an addition onto the school, because it filled up so quick,” he said.

He said he has learned a few lessons along the way over the past 20 years.

“I’ve learned you can never construct too many apartments, because when it’s all said and done, we’ve always wished it could’ve been bigger,” Long said.

Long also has plans of constructing another Graystone in DuBois.

For more information about Graystone Court Villas, call 938-5474.

Tracy Miller is the manager of the Punxsutawney apartment complex.

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