Lancaster Woman Finding New Use For Drug House


UPDATED: Thursday December 5, 2013 6:27 PM

It was once a magnet for drug use, and other crimes.

Now, an abandoned house in Lancaster is getting a second chance as a center for learning and love of music.

Long-time music teacher Mary Anne Theller watched from just down the street, as the house on North Cherry Street turned from family home to suspected drug house.

"It was kind of a blight on the block. It had been empty, there'd been a fire and questions about the fire," Theller said.

At 72 years old, the music teacher started playing a different tune.

She used her life savings to buy the abandoned house in order to tear it down.

"You know, when you reach a certain age. You kind of think, what am I going to be doing now for the rest of my life?" said Theller. "And I had always been involved with music in this area."

The property, now being demolished and levelled, will be the future home of a music school.

Fairfield County Strings and Keyboards will move from a room in Theller's house to a non-profit school, teaching more than 100 students how to play the piano, violin and cello.

"You see, in the center of that over there, we're going to have a big great room, that will be a recital hall," Theller pointed out. "And we can probably seat -- it will be small for recital halls -- 80 to 100."

Theller already has architectural plans for the building, which she plans to open in about a year.

"My only thought was, if I'm going to do this, I'd better hurry up... I don't have time on my side," she said. "I'm 72, I'm going to be 73 in March, so I need to get cracking."

She's taking her neighborhood back and hitting all the right notes.

No student is turned away from Theller's school, and she only asks they pay what they can.

An opening date for the new school has not yet been set.

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