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Schwab building

Published July 18. 2011 05:02PM

The two most recognized buildings in Weatherly are the train station and the Schwab school.

The train station had stopped being used by the railroads decades ago, but the historic structure has been renovated and converted into borough offices. Though major facade improvements were made, the historic ambience remains.

The Schwab Building was used from 1903 until 1991 as a school by the Weatherly Area School District. It was then sold to a Virginia man who had grand plans for the structure.

The landmark building which is perched on a hill overlooking the main entrance to the small community, and overlooking the train station, was built by former Bethlehem Steel magnate Charles Schwab.

It is equipped with a rare Seth Thomas clock.

The buyer, Larry Halstead, paid $400,000 for the building.

Apparently no improvements were made to the once-elegant building since Halstead bought it. In fact, the opposite has happened according to citations filed in the office of District Justice Joseph Homanko. Deterioration is ruining both the interior and exterior.

It was reported that Halstead's plans were set back by an injury which prevented him from doing the work.

But the complaints by the Weatherly borough manager indicate he hasn't had even minor maintenance work done on the premises; that there are weeds and other problems that need to be addressed.

In fact, Halstead has the property listed for sale. He says in the sales advertisement that he would trade it for a retired cruise ship or a collector auto.

He describes it as:

"An extraordinary property situated high on a one plus acre knoll overlooking the small picturesque village 100 miles west of NYC was hand crafted in 1901 by old world artisans using the finest materials available."

Why, then, is it being allowed to get so run down? Why isn't Halstead making more of an effort to preserve the structure?

A hearing on the citations issued by the borough manager is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Homanko's Weatherly office.

At one time, there was a committee formed in Weatherly, "The Mrs. C.M. Schwab School Revitalization Committee," which was incorporated. Obviously the committee was formed before Halstead bought the building.

The committee had been hoping to obtain funds and have the building placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Unfortunately for the committee, it never did obtain inclusion on the Trust could occur. The structure was sold to Halstead in 1997,

Also unfortunately, Halstead hasn't lived up to what he initially told Weatherly School Board when he bought the building.

According to news coverage which occurred when Halstead made the purchase, he remarked:

"Not too much work will be needed on the school. We plan to remove the asphalt to plant grass and trees so it will blend better with the neighborhood. If all goes well, the project should take about a year to complete."

Fourteen years later, the work Halstead promise hasn't even been started.

Hopefully, Halstead will appear at Wednesday's hearing and have an explanation for not doing the work, as well as a valid plan to rapidly begin preservation of the building.

This is an historic structure that has served Weatherly well. It deserves better treatment than what Halstead has given. It's worthy of the same attention that the train station received.


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