Old Pershing school to be made into artist haven
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 16, 2013
2/16/13 at 7:23 AM
One of the city's oldest school buildings could soon have a new life as a "live-work" haven for local artists.
The Tulsa school board just approved a contract of sale for the vacant Pershing school building, 1903 W. Easton St., to Tom Wallace for $495,000.
Wallace is president of Wallace Engineering, a structural and civil engineering consulting firm with offices in downtown's Brady District.
Wallace did not respond to calls seeking comment, but Tulsa Public Schools administrators said he has shared his plans with them, as well as residents of the Owen Park neighborhood where Pershing is located.
"He is going to preserve the existing historic characteristics of the building and turn the classrooms into loft apartments," said Gary Percefull, president of the Tulsa school board, who attended the neighborhood meeting. "The objective is to have a live-work space for artists so the building will have apartments plus a common space and possibly a restaurant or coffee shop."
TPS records show Pershing opened as an elementary school in 1918 and was expanded in 1968. It closed the first time in 1979 but was later used to house various alternative education programs.
The school's namesake is John J. Pershing, who commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I and later served as chief of staff of the Army.
TPS has a glut of vacant facilities that have been declared surplus because of its Project Schoolhouse efficiency initiative, which has resulted in the closure of about 15 schools since 2011. The situation even landed Tulsa in a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts about large, inner city school districts that are struggling to find uses for their shuttered school buildings.
Pershing was one of a half-dozen such facilities in Tulsa that drew little to no interest when offered for public bids. Just last month, the school board contracted with a broker for as much as $25,000 to market Pershing, along with the closed Addams, Cherokee, and Sandburg schools and the facilities that formerly housed Bunche and Chouteau schools, which relocated to other buildings.
Services covered by the contract include conducting tours, inspections and open houses and the development of marketing materials.
The contractor, Bill Mizener with CB Richard Ellis/Oklahoma, said his remaining task is a difficult one, despite the sudden movement on the Pershing property.
"Some have considerable interest, some have no interest. Zoning is a real challenge. It's a very difficult job for us - all you have to do is look at the locations and see we are a little bit challenged because there are rather a limited number of uses you can put them to."
Original Print Headline: Pershing school to be local artist haven
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
The former Pershing Elementary School, which opened in 1918, at 1903 W. Easton St., is pictured in 2011. The school board approved a contract of sale for the building, which will reportedly be used for loft apartments and space for artists. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file