FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A former one-room schoolhouse renovated into a family home has hit the real estate market in Aboite Township in Allen County, Ind.
The home, located at 14318 Aboite Center Road, is known as the 1883 Schoolhouse. It was a part of the Aboite Township Schools, covering District 4 of eight districts. The schoolhouse was built by J.F. Wing & Co. in 1883 and called the Cory School, named after the man who sold the land to Aboite Township, John Cory. Students attended class there until 1938.
The vacant schoolhouse would end up under the ownership of John Popp. According to the current owner, Eric Vanstrom, Popp bought the schoolhouse and surrounding land in hopes of preserving the school because his grandfather had taught there in the early 1900s. He did not have immediate plans to sell when the Vanstorm family was looking for homes around the area.
“We were actually looking at houses in the area and drove by and saw this, so it wasn’t for sale when we made an offer to the owner,” said Vanstrom. “We sent him a letter, called him, and said we would like to restore the schoolhouse, and that was the only reason why he was going to sell it because his grandfather taught there in like 1905 or 1906.”
Vanstrom said when they first started work on restoring the house there was damage from water that had come through the bell tower as well as from what he assumes were teenagers breaking in to hang out or party. However, he was surprised by how much of the schoolhouse was salvageable.
“This is probably the rarest one we found, and I’ve looked for other ones, but with most of the roof intact, most of the flooring intact,” said Vanstrom. “There was also an actual piece of oversized slate, about 4-foot-by-9 foot that we also saved, and we mounted that on an old salvage door and have people sign that when they come in now. The original schoolhouse chalkboards we’ve left because there is original writing on them from 1938 when they close down the school.”
In order to preserve as much of the original schoolhouse as possible, they built an addition to the home to give it two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a basement. They also leaned on using as many reclaimed materials as they could in order to maintain the aesthetic, like reclaimed barn beams used for new posts and for the stairs, as well as barn wood used for flooring and a chandelier over the dining area. Reclaimed slate was also used in one of the bathrooms to go along with the slate found left at the schoolhouse.
“It’s been a lot of fun because you know you can bring in all these elements and have something that’s interesting to look at.”
Vanstrom said visitors to the house are usually awestruck their first time because of all of the details.
“When you walk in you see the original floors, you see the brick,” said Vanstrom. “It just stops them because they’re just like, wow. It just gives you a pleasant feeling to just sit there. I just love sitting there just looking around just absorbing it because it’s part of the history.”
When asked why he wanted to take an old schoolhouse and turn it into a space for his family to live, he said: “Isn’t that everyone’s dream?” He added that he always saw the house as a place for people to gather.
“It was meant to be a house where people could come visit,” said Vanstrom. “It’s not meant to house a huge family, it’s meant for somebody to live there and enjoy it, and then have people come visit them when they can.”
Vanstrom is selling the home so that they can move closer to family but said he will not be too upset if it does not sell. He would love to be able to return to the house in that case, but would also be happy to see a new set of people enjoying the schoolhouse. He plans to leave books on the schoolhouse’s history and copies of photos with the house, and he’s open to leaving other school-based objects the new owners might want.
The home is just under 3,000 square feet and sits one acre of land. The property is listed for $683,000 by Andrea Zehr with Exp. Realty LLC.