How a Converted Schoolhouse Makes a Home

Limited income doesn't mean you can't buy out on the land. Converting an old schoolhouse is one way to recycle in order to create a new homestead.


| September/October 1970



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Want a $15,000 home on a limited income? Bunny Barney tells us how to recycle an abandoned schoolhouse by remodeling the old building into a modern home.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

What can you do if you're sick of the city and want to get back to the land . . . but your limited income won't let you buy a farm or build a house?

Well, our personal solution to that problem was to bid on an abandoned schoolhouse, cross our fingers and—when we got it—remodel the old building into a modern home. Since there are many abandoned schoolhouses in almost every section of the country, the idea can easily mean a new life for your family too. Here's how we obtained a $15,000 home for $4,000 and how you might do even better.

Forty-two years ago this fall, I struggled with my phonetics in a little, nearly-new 32 foot square schoolhouse. The corner where I tried so hard to pronounce my W's is now part of our large and delightfully airy bedroom, thanks largely to my husband. With manual skill and an artistic eye, he remodeled that old building into a very comfortable and presentable home.

Archie designed all our rooms to take advantage of existing windows and heat ducts. The only new windows added were a pair in the northeast bed room to replace the old blackboards. With these installed, we have a view of the countryside in all four directions.

The small upper windows you see in the outside view of the house are covered on the inside. They are also above the suspended ceiling which we dropped four feet below the old ceiling to make all the main rooms cozier.

The main living area is open, with only cupboards and a chair-height eating bar dividing the kitchen from living and dining areas. On the bar side of the cupboards is a built-in range unit. The oven is on the opposite wall. A lazy Susan and V-shaped drawer make ingenious use of the corner section of the cupboard.





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