PUNXSUTAWNEY — Whatever happened to the former Mary A. Wilson Elementary School? It is transitioning into Graystone Court.
Jeff Long, owner of Graystone Court, purchased the empty school last year from the Punxsutawney Area School District and is converting it into independent living apartments for seniors 55 and older.
Long said there is a need to provide quality, affordable housing to those seeking a safe, maintenance-free home.
Graystone Court has grown in popularity since its first building opened in 2000, he said. Currently, there are 11 other locations spanning across Blair, Cambria and Clearfield counties.
Long said the apartments — in each former classroom — at the former school will contain one bedroom, while the former multi-purpose room (cafeteria/gym) will serve as the dining area for the entire facility.
If the weather cooperates, crews should be able to begin a new, eight-story tower housing apartments — for which the foundation has been poured — at the rear of the former school, as well as place a roof before winter.
“We’re completely gutting the school building, putting all new wiring and plumbing into the building with mostly new windows,” Long said. “It’s going to look like a completely new place once it’s completed.”
There will be full kitchens in each apartment, and all appliances will be included, he said. Also, all utilities (water, sewer, electric and cable television) will be paid for by the residents in their rent, Long said.
Construction should be completed in July.
The apartments will have dry-wall ceilings and walls throughout the complex, and there’s an artist who will paint designs of clouds and flowers on the ceilings in some of the apartments.
Long said the first Graystone Court was also constructed from a former school.
He said that when he first saw the former Mary A. Wilson School, he didn’t see an old school; he saw apartments.
Originally, he planned to build a Graystone Court complex on Route 436 in Young Township.
“When the school became available, I thought it was a much better location, closer to downtown, and people could walk into town to shop from this location,” he said.
There will be many activities held in the complex to keep residents entertained, and staff will serve meals several days a week.
Long said anyone who would like a sneak peek at the project should look in the parking lot at the large picture posted on each side of a trailer facing both east and west.
Once construction is complete, there will be an open house, at which Long said people will be amazed at what they see.
“When we’re done, it’s going to be a new building,” he said.
For more information, check out www.graystonecourt.com  or call 814-944-2330.