EPI Center (formerly East Oreland Schoolhouse) Needs Your Support
Bell Tolling for East Oreland School?
Beckoning children to the East Oreland School, the bell housed in its quaint cupola began ringing in 1909. Some of the school’s alumnae still reside in the neighborhood, and at least one, Charles “Rocky” Pistilli, remembers ringing it while a student at the school. He and an increasing number of his neighbors have organized an effort to save the bell, cupola, and the school from the wrecking ball.
The Upper Dublin Commissioners have been entertaining the idea of demolishing the structure, turning the 1.25-acre property into a neighborhood park. While the local
residents are enthused about an updated park and would prefer open space to development, 83% of the East Oreland neighbors have indicated they want the
oldest portions of the school building preserved.
When the property was turned over to the township in 1978, it became known as the EPI Center and has served a variety of community functions including a senior
center, voting station, and a variety of cultural and recreational purposes for adults and children. Other than the school, there is no community focal point in East Oreland.
The very first recommendation of the Montgomery County Planning Commission’s 1978 School Facilities Plan states “All closed public schools should be kept in the public
domain unless there are unusual and justifiable reasons for not doing so. Closed schools located in residential areas can be reused as playgrounds, or as recreation and community centers.”
The fate of the East Oreland School may be determined at the Upper Dublin Commissioners’ October 9 Meeting. Renovations are needed if the school is to be preserved, but a newestimate from a professional engineer demonstrates the work can be done for less than $1 million—and that can come from open space funds available to the Township. If you’d like the Township to save this historic school and community center, please send an email of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
May the school bell ring for preservation rather than toll its demise.