The following is from the PA At Risk 2010 Magazine.
J. W. Cooper High School
Shenandoah, Schuylkill County
(Originally listed in PA At Risk 2001)
Kent Steinmetz, President of Steinmetz
Jewelers in Hamburg, purchased the J.
W. Cooper School in 2009 with the goal
of transforming it into a regional hub for
business, entertainment, recreation, arts and
crafts, and perhaps even living. Despite the
fact that he has received none of the grants
he has applied for and is not having success
in getting bank financing for the project,
Steinmetz is making tremendous progress in
rehabilitating the building and getting it back
in use. The building currently houses a branch of Steinmetz Jewelers, Caledonia Vintage, a recording studio called Interface Studios, a studio and darkroom for TLC Photo, and a performing arts school. Together these
businesses provide employment for eleven
people in the community.
Steinmetz and his supporters continue to hold fundraisers and special events in the building. Several concerts have been held in the auditorium. So far, financial support for the Cooper project has come from alumni, local residents and businesses, with volunteers doing most of the work. Renovations have included installation of new glass in the windows, new front doors, fixing a hole in the roof, significant plumbing upgrades, rehabilitation of classrooms and ancillary spaces (suchas locker rooms) to house businesses, and rehabilitation of the auditorium and balcony for community events. With the help of many others in the community, Steinmetz continues to make impressive progress in bringing the Cooper School back to life as a community asset.