HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The abandoned William Penn High School in Harrisburg was beautiful in its day, but now it’s a magnet for vandals. The district has debated what to do with it for years.
Now, there’s a good chance it will be torn down.
“We’ve continued to have fires, one most recently this spring, trespassing, we have many people try to break into that building,” said Dr. Marcia Stokes, Chief Financial Officer of Harrisburg School District.
The district is taking steps to demolish the building. If approved, work would begin in August and take up to a year.
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“We’ve toured the building, and it’s in such decay, there’s really no other option,” said Danielle Robinson, Harrisburg School District board member.
District officials say the cost of renovating the building was over $90 million, compared to the $7 million it will take to remove the asbestos and demolish it.
“It’s a no-brainer from a fiscal standpoint, but there is a lot of emotion and a lot of pride that exists within the community for that building,” said Dr. Stokes.
The building has landed on Historic Harrisburg Association’s “preservation list” for the past few years.
“We can’t save them all, and we’re always sad when a landmark, particularly a landmark like this, is threatened or lost,” said David Morrison, Executive Director of Historic Harrisburg Association.
If the building is demolished, the district plans to keep the land.
“It leaves that option open to in the future, build on that land, maybe build another facility,” said Robinson.
The district says the money to demolish the building is coming out of the Capital Reserve Fund, with no additional cost to taxpayers.
The district’s receiver will take a final vote on June 27.