October 22, 2020

By Linda Cicoira

Three Pennsylvania residents recently bought the former Central High School, in Painter, and plan to restore the main building.

Collage artist Carol-Lynn Moran, of Valley Forge, and her two sons, have yet to determine what they will do with the property.

“We’re trying to keep our options open,” she said. Maybe some housing and art, she added. “We’re looking at a lot of different things right now.”

Moran owns the Woodland Apartments, in Melfa, and the former USDA building, in Onley. She spends a lot of time on the Eastern Shore with her Melfa enterprise, she said.

Her son, artist Edward Rausch, is a painter. Nicholas Rausch, the third owner, is a lawyer.

According to court records, the former school property was purchased for $157,500. That is just $7,500 more than artist Tucker Robbins, of New York, paid for it more than a decade ago. Since then, the building has been vandalized and the roof has continued to deteriorate.

The circa 1932 cinderblock and brick school came with the metal gym, other outbuildings, a cottage that was once a home economics classroom, and the nearly 12 surrounding acres. The former football field is growing a forest.

Robbins bought the school from Accomack County after winning over the board of supervisors with his plans of moving his furniture workshop to the gym, offering concerts in the auditorium, and putting a restaurant in what was once was the cafeteria. He wanted to serve exotic vegetables grown on the grounds. Art studios and shops would have filled the classrooms.

Robbins spent money on plans and paid $50,000 to remove the asbestos from the main building. He sought and obtained historical recognition for the site. Then in 2015, Robbins announced, he was unable to make it work.

It went on the market for $525,000 in May 2015. And there it sat and sat. In October 2015, it went down to $449,000. It was reduced again a year later to its recent price of $350,000.

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