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'A community for all generations'

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LEFT: As community outreach coordinator for Academy Place Apartments in Knightstown, Kevin Richey says, “I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.” The building served generations as a school, beginning in 1875, and was repurposed as senior-and-disabled housing in 1992. It is under new local ownership and management. RIGHT: Christie Jarrett, left, and friend Paula Jones, visit in Jarrett’s Academy Place Apartments’ residence. Both live at Academy Place. Jones says, “People in Knightstown are just so welcoming and so friendly. They make you feel like you’ve known them forever.”
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Christie Jarrett, left, and friend Paula Jones, visit in Jarrett’s Academy Place Apartments’ residence. Both live at Academy Place. Jones says, “People in Knightstown are just so welcoming and so friendly. They make you feel like you’ve known them forever.”

By DONNA CRONK - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

KNIGHTSTOWN — Not everyone’s office wall holds an enlarged photo of himself in the midst of his fourth-grade classmates. 

But for Kevin Richey, outreach coordinator of Academy Place Apartments in Knightstown, his office isn’t just any place. It’s inside his one-time fourth-grade classroom.

A Knightstown native, Richey was born and raised in the town, grew up to live elsewhere for years, including stints in Bloomington and New Orleans, then returned in 2011. For seven years he owned the downtown basketball-themed Home Court Cafe. Then he gave it up and was soon approached about taking this job.

Richey said life is all about transitions and of his job he says, “I feel like I have died and gone to heaven.” 

Last year, CFH Enterprises, LLC, owned by locals Joe and Denise Peacock, purchased the historic school-turned apartment building. It is managed by a non-profit organization with a board of directors whose members include a roster of local names.  Major renovations are ongoing.

The building, originally a Quaker school known as the Knightstown Academy, was completed in 1875. It is recognizable for its distinctive three-story, red-brick Second Empire architecture under a slate-covered roof. Twin turrets support a globe and telescope on top. Twin walnut staircases remain sturdy as they wind their way up three stories.

Early days

The building was added onto in 1887 and again in 1931. While the 340 N. Adams St. address was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, it wasn’t until about a decade later that the 1921 gymnasium behind it gained international fame as a primary filming site for the movie, “Hoosiers.”

Generations of Knightstown-area kids attended school in the Academy building. For some, life has come full circle and they live there today in some of the property’s 38 apartments for senior and disabled residents. Renovations are ongoing to maintain the historic building while making it appropriate for modern living.

Plans for future 

Richey has a variety of ideas for activities and programming of interest to residents – and to the community at large.

“We’re trying to make it more of a place not to just come and live out the rest of your life but make it more of a place you want to come and live your life,” says an enthusiastic Richey. He wants residents to have opportunities and outlets to express their vitality and remain a part of the community.

Richey has more than a dozen people who have committed to come in to lead art and cultural classes, medical and health information, as well suggestions by police and other emergency personnel on safety and wellness.

Recently, a group of kids visited. Richey hopes to increase intergenerational outreach.

For Christie Jarrett, the Academy building has been a part of her life for a long time. “It was my home away from home and now it’s my home.” She graduated from the school with the Class of 1960.

Jarrett says the apartments are spacious and the place “feels like this is a community.” She says residents like their neighbors. She’s lived in the building for nearly nine years. “I enjoy living here. I enjoy the people living here.”

She mentions playing cards with building friends, and speaks of her “adopted” sister, Paula Jones.

Jones came to Knightstown more than a year ago following both her husband’s death and then her own injury while living out of state. Two of her sons, Greg and Chris Schombert, own the local Hoosier Feeder.

“I love it,” Jones said of living at Academy Place. “I like the people. I like the convenience.”

She adds, “I can’t imagine living somewhere else.”

According to property director Kip Yelle, there are no rental income guidelines. One-bedroom apartments are $588 with two-bedroom going for $650 a month. There is an elevator for residents. Anyone inquiring about living there may contact property manager Dawn Jones at 765-345-7789.

Says Richey of the property, “We’re a community for all generations.”

For more information about Academy Place Apartments, contact Richey via email at kevin.richey@ktownacademy.com or call him at 765-465-3853.