TULSA, Oklahoma - A Tulsa elementary school built in 1918 sat empty for two decades in the Owen Park neighborhood.

But now, the halls are again starting to fill with people – not to learn, but to live. And it is all thanks to the vision of a local husband and wife.

The bones of the building are the same. Lockers run along the walls and original water fountains still are in place.

Decades of school children filled the classrooms at Pershing from 1918 until TPS closed it as a traditional school more than 30 years ago. But in 2013, Susie Wallace and her husband had a vision.
“We walk into some really run down places and say ‘isn't this cool?’ But other people say, ‘What a mess’ and move on,” Wallace said.

Instead of moving on, old classrooms are now loft apartments.

“We knew we wanted to polish what was already there,” Wallace said.

Pershing Studios Facebook Page

Sam Regan was one of the first to get his keys.

Reporter: “What was it about this unit that you liked so much?”

Regan: “Well, I was actually torn between two units.”

He went with the one with the East view and morning sun, which he will get plenty of with the building’s original windows. And Sam even grew up in the neighborhood, just three blocks away.

“It's going to be great for the neighborhood,” Regan said. “It is still up and coming… Obviously a lot has gone on in here, so to get the experience to live here first is awesome, too.”

Many of the 24 units have the old built-ins, clocks and even the chalkboards, but they aren't all former classrooms, as Wallace gave a tour of the lower level of the building.

“This was the boiler room originally,” she said. “It was quite a mess. It had standing water and pipes and vents."

She said the project took time and patience to complete, but it was worth every minute.

“To have this big building on a whole city block be vacant all this time is not good for the neighborhood… and bringing some life back into it is very exciting," Wallace said.

More than half of the units are already rented. They range around $1,100 a month.

They even have two micro apartments that are old bathrooms, less than 300 square feet of living space. Rent is just $325 a month, but those have already been scooped up.