In 1910 Anne Mariah Kamerer conveyed one acre of land to the local school district of Hempfield township to build a school. A one room school house was built only later to add another room. The two room school was named the Kamerer School after my Great Grandmother. Grades 1 thru 8 were conducted there, each grade with their designated corner for seating.
The building served the community as a school first, and then as a community recreational facility until 1967 when it was retired from all use. The building stood vacant and suffered vandalism and disrepair until it went up for sale by the school district in 1979.
It was bought back by William and Gilda (Kamerer) Downs. The old Kamerer school remained unoccupied until 1999 when the property was handed down to Great Grandson James Scott and Carole Downs.
In 1998 using local, family owned, small business contractors, the restoration of the old Kamerer Schoolhouse began. The exterior repointing and power washing was contracted to Raimondo Construction. The walkways, porches and concrete work was given to the able hands of Izze Construction while the new roof, windows and all interior remodeling was provided by Tim and Merle Helman. Interior design, networking and electrical wiring was the job of Bill and Scott Downs.
During the restoration, cast iron coal burners placed in each room to keep the students warm in the winter months had to be removed in pieces. Ceilings were lowered to eleven and a half feet. The plaster covered, three brick thick walls were studded out and a sub floor was added to insulate and allow for modern wiring. The original slate roof was finally retired after more than 100 years of service.
Great pains were taken to replicate or restore to the original architectural design of the school house. The door stoops were mimicked but the cut stone steps were replaced with a larger more functional porch made of agate concrete. Seventeen four by eight foot windows were created and placed back into the existing frames. The basketball court was converted to a parking area and a new 35 foot flag pole placed in the front of the building proudly salutes our beloved country.
The last but certainly not the least of our restoration efforts was the bell tower and school bell. The original bell has long ago disappeared so a replacement bell was donated by William and Gilda. Today the bell rests comfortably atop the school as a tribute to the Kamerer legacy.
Interesting side bar: In 1982 J.S.Downs & Associates was founded and started printing in the old school. With one utility light, an electrical socket and a family of mice, a small duplicator press was installed in the abandoned classroom. A kerosene heater was utilized to heat the rubber based ink enabling the first print jobs of J.S.Downs & Associates to be created. To this day print management is a large part of the services we provide.