Glenside-Weldon to Come Down

The Abington School Board votes to raze the former elementary school.


It's coming down.

The Abington School Board late Tuesday night approved a motion authorizing the demolition of the Glenside-Weldon Elementary School on Easton Road. The school had been replaced by the newer Copper Beech Elementary several years ago.

Many of the school board members said the decision to knock the building down did not come lightly. 

“We are doing the prudent thing — what’s in the best interest of the community,” School Board President Raymond McGarry said.

The school district will retain ownership of the property should it need to build a new elementary school on the site in the future. The school board will still need to solicit bid specifications for knocking the building down, those bids will have to be advertised and then awarded. Superintendent Amy Sichel said she expects the board to advertise for bids in August or September.

The board also approved the transfer of $2 million from the district’s committed general fund balance to its capital project fund to make the project happen.   

The building is costing the district about $250,000 annually to maintain, according to McGarry.

Click here to read about the feasibillity study about razing the building.

Prior to the vote, two people spoke out against knocking the building down. Resident John Monaghan said while Keswick Village is vibrant, the Glenside-Weldon building is a spot of “sullen nothingness.” He’s been pushing for the school district to sell the property so business may thrive in the area. He also said the school board has had very little outreach to the community during the process.

See a letter to the editor written by Monaghan in October 2012 regarding the school here.

Resident Ashley Spearman, who is also on the Abington Township Planning Committee, also asked the board to grant the school a stay of execution.  

“The neighbors are just catching up with the idea that you’re going to knock it down,” he said.

Several school board members, including Adam Share, said the district has spent a significant amount of time and money looking into the viability of keeping the building.

“Professionals say [Glenside-Weldon] is run down — nobody wants it,” Share said. “I don’t see any downside to demolishing the building. To have this building there, a building that professionals said wasn’t commercially viable, doesn’t make any sense.”

Susan (Dalzell) Heydt June 12, 2013 at 11:25 AM
I spent grades K - 8 at Glenside Weldon and have fond memories of the beautiful stone building. It is sad to think that the facade will no longer stand, or be the place to watch the parade on July 4th. Yet, a quarter of a million dollars a year to maintain an unused building in an age where school funding issues are so critical, it appears to be the prudent decision for the generation of students in the district today. Such a difficult decision, that those of us in the Donegal School District, who will see the razing of the oldest continuously operating school in the country -- Maytown Elementary, destroyed in the very near future. We all still have the memories. And, soon, we'll have the wonderful photography of Art Dresher, my fifth grade teacher, who taught in that building for 33 years. Start snapping, Art!
jake ras June 12, 2013 at 01:42 PM
open it to the public for one full day so we can all walk through the hallways and be reminded of our childhood before it gets knocked down!!!!
Jim Hnatko June 12, 2013 at 04:19 PM
This is a catastrophe!
Whit June 12, 2013 at 04:22 PM
I second what Jake said. Whole lot of memories of that place and I would gladly make the trip back "home" to walk those halls one more time
Wendi Bird June 12, 2013 at 04:58 PM
I have been a resident of Abington all my life. I went to North Hills elementary school, a beautiful stone building tucked away on Tennis Ave. Following the elementary school I then went to Glenside Weldon for seventh and eighth grades. It's a shame that those two beautiful stone buildings and all the memories that they carry have to come down. It's a piece of history in the Township !! Very sad That they can't find a use for it !
Natalie Beckett June 12, 2013 at 05:02 PM
I am also with Whit and Jake. I was there for 1st-5th grade and would love to walk those halls one more time!! I remember walking to and from school with my bf. Boy do I miss living in such a close knit community!! I will miss that little school.
Alison Smith June 12, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Please take lots of pictures Art Dresher. I have so many wonderful memories of K-8. I live in California now and would love to see this wonderful building one more time!
Meat Puppet June 12, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Would be a great spot for a new Wegman's!
Lisa Weiss Silverman June 12, 2013 at 05:45 PM
This is sad news. I was at GW for K-6 and have great memories of each classroom and teacher there. I would return to Glenside/Abington for a day to walk through the halls one last time.
Kim M. June 12, 2013 at 06:14 PM
I have lived in Glenside all of my life (actually in the same house I grew up in) and my brothers and I, along with my two children all went to Glenside Weldon. This building is a large part of our community as their are fond memories for every single one of us that went there. The idea that our school board could not come up with anything better to do with this building is beyond me. Look what they turned the old Ardsley Elementary into. A very large day care, senior center, community center, big brothers and big sisters office, among other classes that are held there. So why couldn't this same thing be set up at Glenside Weldon? Our community is very large and we most certainly could use another center. As far as the cost goes in maintaining the school, I'd love to see how much actually goes into the school and more importantly what they pay to keep the grounds up? Because that expense will stay even if the school is knocked down! Shame on me for not attending these meetings. But I am one person and I would have needed a lot more people to stand behind me to fight for this building. I would love to have a piece of the building and/or something from the inside. And I would love to know what they have or are doing with the all of the awards and trophies that use to sit inside? Let the public who have very sentimental feelings towards this building be a part of it before they knock it down. A very sad day in my opinion..........
Susan Oberlies June 12, 2013 at 10:28 PM
The community needs more green space. This is a perfect location for a park and a new turf field for lacrosse and field hockey. This would complement the existing baseball fields and enhance the attractiveness of the area. Ultimately, the township's revenue base would increase as more people move to our township and visitors at the fields would frequent out stores and restaurants. This is a solution that has a positive economic and cultural impact.
Robin Sturgis June 12, 2013 at 10:38 PM
I too spent my elementary and junior high school years at Glenside Weldon. I even spent a few days substitute teaching there after college. I would love to go back one more time and relive some fond memories. I became a teacher because of the fantastic teachers I had in my years there. While it is financially prudent not to continue to pay for the upkeep of a building if it is not usable it is a sad day! Thanks for the memories Glenside Weldon!
Gwynne D'Amico June 12, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Where the heck did this come from??? I just went to the board meeting on May 23rd and not one word was mentioned about demolishing the building. I along with other residents asked specifically about the plans for GW and they made a point to say that they were keeping GW in case they needed the property for future use. I will definitely miss Glenside-Weldon. My kids attended there until Copper Beech (YUK) was built. God knows what they will put on this property; I pray to God it's not a parking garage!
bill riemenschneider June 13, 2013 at 12:41 AM
This building was built with community funds maintained with community funds but we the people have no say about the building. Sounds like communist China.
Charles June 13, 2013 at 01:18 AM
So sad to hear. ..I spent 5th & 6th grade in Weldon in the mid 80s and met many life long friends there. ..Sad that they can afford to rip it down...And yet every street in this town is in need of repair ..This is the first I've heard about it too..They don't want a big stink stirred up...
Danny Woodburn June 13, 2013 at 02:35 AM
Perhaps better outreach might have allowed for a plan that does not let corporations out rule community. Think of who might have walked these halls and what they have had to say prior to making a choice based solely on business.
James Waker June 13, 2013 at 03:09 AM
This is sad to hear. I went there from k thru 8th. Alot of great memories from this school. I always go by there when I come back to town. I walk up through Glenside from my parents house and always go by the school. Will miss seeing the beutiful stone building.
John Monaghan June 13, 2013 at 03:45 AM
Well everyone, I have been to almost every school board meeting this academic year. We all agree that the greenfields should stay green and we all have ideas about the space, whether to "re-purpose" it or turn it into a commercially viable space that compliments the Keswick Village that we all love. The School Board thinks that it would be just fine to leave the school footprint as open space, at the cost of $2 million for demolition and clearing, for at least the next decade on the slim chance that the demographic tide will turn and a new school will need to be built somewhere on the site. Even though there are other options for new classrooms at 3 existing sites...or a potential school at the lower portion of Memorial Field. The School Board doesn't really care if we stay in "limbo" during the coming years. Well, there is one final School Board Meeting on June 25th at 7:30pm at the Administration Building on Highland Avenue. There will be two "windows" for comments by residents......I urge you to carve out the time and let the Board know how you feel. If you no longer live in the area, write a letter. They think that no one really cares....you have to chance to show them how wrong they are.
John-David Mitchell June 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM
How sad that the Abington School Board can not come with even an interim idea until someone has a truly visionary idea for this wonderful group of buildings. This is a historic structure and the craftsmanship is special...maybe we can get it recognize as a historic structure. The village area of Weldon and Glenside should be given the opportunity to reclaim this grand old building. Do not let the knuckleheads get away with this !! There are so many possibilities that could happen here... Architects would probably love to use their imaginations to make it into a community center, a college satellite campus, an Arts center for performance & education...a regional art museum ( do you know how many artists are around the area past and present ! )...First lets get it designated as a historic structure and then we can raise monies to restructure the interiors rebuild/change the more recent (modern back ), upgrade the fields into multi-use park and playing fields .... It endless the GOOD possibilities these fabulous buildings have to offer...DO NOT LET THE SHORT SIGHTED School board just get away with this !!!!
Fred Lempa June 14, 2013 at 03:34 PM
You do have a say -- were you one of the 11% who voted at the last election? School Board members were on the ballot.
Joseph Michael Millerw June 14, 2013 at 08:51 PM
I worked at Abington School Dist for 48 years and G.W was old,falling apart,the Maint. Dept,did a good job,keeping it together,,but a building that old,you can only do so much,so it's seen it's time. It's time to go
Joyce Hahn-Amici June 16, 2013 at 05:01 PM
I went to school there from K-6 grade. I remember all of my teachers. They inspired me to be who I am today......a teacher!!! Miss Christiana, Mrs. Smith, Ms. Weingard, Mrs. Finnegan/Skiffington, Miss Misko, Miss Frank and Mr. Skiffington. LOVED our Friday sing-a-longs with Mr. Skiffington playing the piano. He was the best! Mrs. Smith had an old claw bathtub in herroom filled with pillows. We were allowed to read in it! I always wondered how she got it in there!! :) I really hope they open up the school for the public to walk through one last time!!!!!
Kerry Oram Dixon June 16, 2013 at 07:44 PM
I spent 9 years attending Glenside-Weldon Elementary and Junior High in the 1960's. I have a lot of good memories of that time. I do not live in the area anymore, but would like a chance to walk through the school again before it is torn down.
Lloyd J. Conard June 17, 2013 at 06:11 PM
I went to Glenside-Weldon 1st through 9th Grade. In addition I, as soon to be HS Sr. in the summer of 1950, was on the School District's Electrician's crew to rewired the old Elementary Building and installed florescent lighting in each class room. No where in this discussion have I seen anyone mention the age of the old elementary building. I believe it was built around 1890. Even so I think for most of us of the older generations, the memory are more important than keeping the building. And when we are all gone, these memories will also be fading away. Within 10 miles the school there are loads with 200 year old & older residences; particularly in Whitpain Township, which I recently spent 2 days surveying. I think these old homes are far more significant..
Barbara Berger June 18, 2013 at 11:21 PM
So many of you have such fond memories of years growing up at GW school. Instead of just reminising about it, make the time to get to the meeting and voice those opinions/ ideas/solutions there. Let them know that you care. People in numbers helps make the difference!!!!
Kim Millar June 19, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Lloyd, no disrespect but you don't have to go 10 miles away to Whitpain Township to see some 200 year old & older residences. We have them right here in our own township! If everyone thought like you about this building not meaning much because it's only a little over 100 years old, then how will we ever get anything to be at that 200 year mark if we just let them be knocked down? All historical buildings no mater who they belong to require work, and sometimes a lot of it. Do you remember when they wanted to knocked the Keswick Theatre down? Look how the Glenside people fought for that building to stay. Us old timers who stayed in our beloved Glenside fight for our area to preserve it's history, and G-W is very much a part of our history!
Angie Mason-Hogsten July 17, 2013 at 11:14 PM
I went to Glenside-Weldon from 7th to 8th grade and LOVED those 2years of Junior High coming after the Golden Years at North Hills Elementary. It was the perfect transition from Elementary to High School. I will miss you Glenside Weldon and do hope that they will allow us the opportunity to "walk-the-hall" one last time before demolition. xox
John Briley January 21, 2014 at 09:16 AM
I am very disappointed with the Abington School board, not just for this decision as a whole but also because as recently as November 2013 they claimed to be looking into preserving parts of the original buildings and/or the facade as was reported on 11/15/14 (google it). However, following this November announcement the board never provided any specific info on these new assessments or findings, and the final board meeting prior to this vote was canceled due to inclement weather thereby nullifying any opportunity for opposition or follow-up questions. Subsequently, I attended January 14th meeting and appealed to the board to vote to table this issue for one month - not only to share their official (new) findings on their recent assessment and allow adequate time for the community to review and respond, but also to make up for the crucial board meeting that was cancelled on 12/10/13. My request was disregarded, and no new info or specific findings were presented from their post-November assessment. So are we to believe that the district couldn't wait just one more month to provide these facts and allow a fair opportunity to the community in the wake of the cancelled December meeting? This decision - and the way in which it was achieved - is going to leave a negative impression on the people of Glenside for a long time. And it will not disappear along with the buildings....


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