With a flurry of turbocharged words and a raised hand, the former Philipsburg-Osceola junior high school building changed hands Monday.
The school year hasn’t ended yet at other district buildings, but at the junior high, the final bell rang a year ago, when the last classes left and the school was taken offline, with operations transferred to the newly completed middle school in Chester Hill.
The school district hosted an auction, welcoming people to look at the property before bidding started just after noon.
The building takes up a whole block in the heart of residential Philipsburg. It is 96,000 square feet of blackboards, gymnasiums, lunchrooms and memories.
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And now it belongs to Gold Nugget Properties LLC. The Missouri company’s Charles Oden does just this, finding school buildings for sale, buying them up, then finding a new use and a new buyer to make them into something other than an abandoned place to learn chemistry and serve detention.
“We have people looking for properties like this to develop,” Oden said.
Development is what Main Street Manager Dana Shoemaker is hoping to see.
“I’m happy we did have some interest in the building,” she said, adding that the future of the building is important to the work Philipsburg Revitalization Corp. is doing with the neighborhood as part of the Keystone Elm Streets program.
“We’re hoping to see positive development, whether residential or multiuse, in keeping with the flavor of the neighborhood,” Shoemaker said.
Ron Gilligan Auctioneers started the bidding at $100,000, dropped by degrees to $5,000, then worked up to the final bid of $13,000. But there were few bidders for the school, and there was more interest in a second building on the auction block.
Wallaceton-Boggs Elementary School stopped being home to students years before the junior high. It has served different purposes over the years, from being leased to other agencies to just being storage space. What will happen to it now is up in the air.
Bidding on that school started at $200,000, dropping to $20,000 before bidders pushed it back up to $40,000. The district was holding out for at least $45,000 before people stopped raising their hands. There is no word yet on whether the high bid has been accepted.
The district retained the right to reject any bids.
Superintendent Gregg Paladina said they were hoping to see higher numbers for the elementary, which includes 5 acres and could be more easily developed for other commercial needs.
Facilities director Don Blake, who has taken care of the two buildings for decades, is OK saying goodbye.
“I just hope someone buys it who will take care of it,” he said of the junior high.