Tuesday, June 18, 2013

History Starts at My House--Old Brown Schoolhouse

Two weeks before I was born, my parents moved into the Old Brown Schoolhouse. 

No, it doesn't look like this anymore. But it probably did, not long after it was built in 1888  and Mary Todd was the teacher here. This is how I imagined the inside of my house used to look.

I spent many summer days playing in the yard, wondering how many other children before me had done the same.

My brother and I enjoyed looking at the initials carved into the bark of the Beech trees in the woods behind our house. We  imagined they were carved there by the last students to attend Brown School in 1947.

The next picture (above) was taken in 1955 when it was purchased by Guy Conrad and converted into a home. The Conrad's lived here until my parents moved in.

Before the brick Tee style building was built in 1888, the district had only a log cabin for a school where students sat on split log benches, using another slanted log for a desk along one wall.

The arched entry of the new building faced eastward, and the small shed was for wood. The belfry was dismantled before we moved in, though the bell was still in the attic along with a wooden flagpole.

That's it on the left, the year we moved in. <year purposely omitted because those are my diapers on the clothesline!>. Note the slate roof still remains. I recall when the slate was removed a modern roof was put on. My brother and I played school with the left over slate.

My Dad was a school teacher and brought home old desks and textbooks for us to play school with. It's amazing I never became a school teacher!

I remember helping my Dad build the screened porch the summer Princess Di and Charles were married. You can still see the archway in the bricks. The single long windows had been divided into two many years before.

One of my favorite things about growing up here, was that the walls were a foot thick and made my bedroom windowsill perfect to sit in. By my memory, someone from the Conrad family mentioned their father, who was a shop teacher, used the discarded wood to remodel that he'd gotten from the old school in Nappanee that was torn down to make a place for Central School.

I remember once when I was about  five years old, Elkhart County, Indiana, had a school house tour. Some older men and women came through the kitchen saying, "this is right where my desk sat." My neighbor's grandfather, Loyal Stuckman visited also--he had been one of the teachers from 1922-24. An acre of land was purchased from Mrs. Anna Smith for the school. The area west of the school was known for its Tamarack marsh. Before 1900, the marsh was cleaned and the land was used to raise potatoes and also mint. A mint-still remains on the north end of the mile section owned by the Stuckman family.

I'm drinking local mint tea as we speak. :)
School was held in the Brown School until 1947. 
But many lessons are still learned there! 

Have you taken the time to learn your local history?
What interesting facts have you learned?
What pieces of history shaped your growing-up years?


Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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  1. That's great. We have many old schoolhouses in Michigan that have been turned to homes. I love that history. My history, my Grandpa's family were Mennonites. My other Grandpa was a first generation immigrant to the US.

  2. We are probably cousins! :) Thanks for stopping by!


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