Vacant Chester school to get upgrade as apartment building

Posted: April 27, 2014

CHESTER A vacant 1930s-era school is about to gain new life as an upscale apartment building in the City of Chester, according to a Chester Upland School District official.

The Wetherill School, a classic stone building on East 24th Street, recently was sold at auction for $200,000 to Best Homes Co. of Glenolden, which plans to undertake the conversion, Chester Upland Solicitor Leo A. Hackett said Thursday. Two other vacant school district structures also have been auctioned.

"That building is a fortress," he said, adding that the project would be a massive undertaking. "Inside, it would have to be redone to make it suitable for apartments. The shell, the roof, and the foundation are salvageable."

The school is named for John Wetherill, the farmer son of a wealthy industrialist family and a school board member for 24 years.

"They were a very well-to-do and philanthropic family in the early 1900s," Hackett said, noting that the family built two mansions, one at 20th Street and Providence Avenues and another that now is part of Widener University's campus.

According to a 1964 history of the family by Sara Roberts Wetherill, John Wetherill was "deeply interested in the schools and the welfare of children." Naming a school for him was "a fitting tribute to his memory," she wrote.

Wetherill originally was an elementary school but had become an alternative school when it was closed four years ago.

The two other properties that were auctioned, the Vocational Building and Pulaski School, were in such bad shape that they will need to be torn down, Hackett said.

Community Baptist Church agreed to pay $65,000 for the Vocational School building on East Eighth Street. The school has been closed since the 1990s, when Delaware County took over vocational education.

The city purchased the Pulaski School, a former middle school closed in 2002, on West Seventh Street, for $70,000. It also agreed to forgive obligations of $105,000 that the school district owed for crossing guards and tax collection, Hackett said.


kboccella@phillynews.com

610-313-8232 @kathyboccella

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