Our home was originally a one-room schoolhouse. We're fortunate to have a little history of the building--a few years ago we found, at a yard sale, a 1930 program from the dedication of the first consolidated school, which has a nice history of the schools of the area. Recently, the local historical society produced a calendar of the one-room schools in the area--our house is "Miss November, 1998."
Our town was orignally settled by Europeans as early as 1680 by English Quakers and French Huguenots, Germans, and later by Moravians in search of religious toleration. Initially, schooling was done in the home, by the mid 1700's, a system of church affiliated schools had been established. As the population of the valley outgrew the capacity of the church schools, a number of private schools were formed locally in the early 1800's, usually by groups of neighboring settlers.
A public school system was organized in 1849, renting 9 buildings in the area while they built 12 schoolhouses, originally of stone. In 1889, the school district replaced the twelve original stone schools with new buildings made of brick, which were completed in the early 1890's.
Ours is one of these, the twelfth school, originally located on Maurer land, and moved a short distance above town when the current brick building was built. As was custom, the school was named after the person who owned the land, a physician named Palm, who received $50 for the site, sized 60 perches (a little less than a half an acre). This is a 1920's photo of Palm's School.
In 1857 a two-story brick private academy with an enrollment of 40 was built in the main part of town by prominent men of the area so "their children might enjoy better and ampler opportunities for culture than the common schools afforded." The Academy struggled financially, requiring the "younger generation" to pay off its debts 1875. At the same time, they provided for and erected a 3-story frame dormitory.
Before the turn of the century, the Academy buildings and grounds were sold to the school district. The dormitory was converted to a high school in 1905, and was replaced with a new brick high school in 1916. Palm's School and one other was closed in 1917 and the students were transferred to the original brick Academy building which became a public grammar school in 1916. A school was destroyed by a tornado in 1927, another closed in 1928, and the remaining schools were closed in 1930 when a consolidated grammar and high school was built.
Some schoolhouse sites we've found:
Palm's school has been a private residence since 1917. It has had major renovations in the 40's or 50's, when the entire interior of the building was gutted, the ceiling was lowered 2 feet, the windows cropped to fit, and all of the original woodwork, windows and doors were replaced. There is little of the original building left beyond the brick exterior, some original paintwork in the attic, a few scraps of molding and a couple of very beat-up doors. The original bead-board ceiling was turned over and used as flooring on the second floor, which we may salvage. Our prized possessions: We still have the original curved window from the second floor and many of the original shutters that you can see in the photo
This is a bit of a shame, because schools of this era generally had beautiful woodwork--beadboard ceilings, wainscoting and elaborate wood entry ways with closets, stairs and coat-racks, and of course, a huge blackboard. On the other hand, original one-room schools usually make awkward houses, very cramped for space, requiring loft bedrooms and the like. In it's current configuration, our house has a relatively spacious 3 bedrooms. We're also fortunate that we have a nice piece of property--many schoolhouses have very small lots, often only 20 or 30 feet larger than the building.
Though any hope of historical restoration is lost, our thought is to make a nice, modern 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, where possible trying to recapture some of it's original charm. Most of the work we've done the first few years is hidden--insulation, heat on the second floor, wiring, and the like. Currently, we're just about finished renovating the bathroom, and are starting to remove some 50 years of mixed decorating everywhere else--the many layers of wallpaper, partition walls, drop ceilings, linoleum and pink kitchen fixtures, and the like must go!
Aleta has a green thumb, and has done a beautiful job with the gardens. The last owner, Ralph, was an elderly man and avid gardener, and he left us some very nice plantings, arbors, and a big garden bed. Aleta has added lots of perennial flowers beds, ornamental grasses, and lots of good things to eat, including asparagus, artichokes, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries. I'm working on getting the lawn in nice shape.
Here's a map to our house: