Former Vandergrift church transforming into children’s play, learning center |
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Mary Ann Thomas

The former Trinity United Presbyterian Church along Vandergrift’s Franklin Avenue has a new owner who has plans to transform the stately sanctuary into an educational performance programs in the worship area and a children’s indoor play area in the basement.

Chloe Kruse, 29, of Vandergrift, bought the building at 262 Franklin Ave. for about $55,000 from Anthony Ferrante of Vandergrift and his sister, Bernice Lewis, late last year, according to Realtor Marilee Kessler.

Previously, the church with handsome woodwork and sweeping stained glass windows was home to a Head Start program.

The church had been on the market for about eight months, according to Kessler.

The brick building, constructed in about 1900 is in good shape, she said.

The re-purposed church will provide a much needed indoor play area, where parents can bring their babies and young children during inclement weather.

“There isn’t anything around like it,” Kessler noted. “The children’s indoor play area could potentially bring a lot of families into town.”

Kruse, a mother of three girls and a former teacher at the Waldorf schools in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, has been teaching children in an outdoor classroom setting in Northmoreland Park in Allegheny Township since last year.

She also is one of the founders of the Vandergrift Parent Project, which is trying to revitalize the Franklin Avenue and Kennedy Park playgrounds with upgraded equipment and activities.

Kruse’s educational and play programming will be offered to children of all ages and will be fee-based.

“I want to make this a destination play area for kids,” she said.

Kruse is planning her first public event on Valentine’s Day offering children activities and spaces for play and crafts for a $5 fee.

The play space is furnished in all-wood materials with sensory play stations, according to Kruse.

“Older children can participate in more structured programs offered in the arts and crafts classroom,” she said.

Given Kruse’s interest and advocacy for outdoor classrooms, she will offer an outdoor classroom in the warmer weather focusing on nature and science. She’s looking for an opportunity to offer fossil, rocks and mineral collections, examples of taxidermy, as well as worm and ant farms.

Third-floor classrooms will be set up for visual and performing arts, and perhaps children’s art exhibits, photography and, possibly, dance and yoga classes, according to Kruse.

Kruse hasn’t yet decided on a name for the center but is working on that as well as upcoming programs this year.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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