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Old schools find new uses - as homes

Country schools no longer teach classes, but several still have children in them every day — as homes, not as schools

Staff writer

A former country school moved to Marion in the 1940s still stands on Lincoln St. where it is used as a home.

The former Bixler School, originally located three and a half miles northwest of Marion, was purchased by Lonnie and Betty Tidwell in the 1940s and moved to 110 N. Lincoln St. in Marion to serve as a home, which it does to this day.

The Tidwells added an attached garage, two bedrooms, and a bathroom.

In 1955, Alex and Jean Case bought the house and raised their children there.

Daughter Debbi Case Darrow, Marion, said the living room and dining room were the original school building.

In 1961 the Case family raised the roof and added two more bedrooms and a bathroom as part of a newly created second story.

In 1976 the attached garage was converted to a family room.

A screened-in back porch was converted into a dining room, and a sunroom was added on the back of the house.

The house was purchased by Brent Cleeton after Jean Case died in 2014.

At least 11 former country schools in Marion County had second lives after students stopped filling their rooms.

Lowell Ensey, a retired educator and Marion native who spent five years researching and writing a 254-page book, “Schools and Teachers of Marion County, Kansas 1865-1969,” said many of the old school buildings became homes.

The former Fifty Six School, originally eight miles east of Marion, was also moved to Marion and settled at 100 N. Cedar, just west of Casey’s on Main St. It, too, was remodeled into a house.

Over time, the house fell into disrepair. The property was purchased by Josh and Allison Tajchman, who had the structure demolished in February to make room for a future restaurant.

Two schoolhouses were moved to Hillsboro.

Schlehuber School, originally four miles west of Hillsboro, was moved to 608 D St. on the Tabor College campus, where it is used for student housing.

Bruderthal School, four miles northeast of Hillsboro, was purchased by Mike and Coleen Ball. It now is at 224 N. Main St. in Hillsboro and was remodeled into a home.

Green Valley School, from three miles east of Goessel, was sold and moved to a gas station at K-15 and Goessel. Later it was moved to the Rudy Voth farm, where it is used for a garage and storage.

Sand Creek School, from five miles southeast of Goessel, was moved to Moundridge and remodeled into a home.

Cross School, from west of Lincolnville, was moved to 210 Main St. in Lincolnville and remodeled into a home.

Bartholda School, from four miles north of Tampa, was moved to Ramona where it first was used as a senior center. The city acquired the building nine years ago and converted it into a city hall and community center.

“We left it the way it was,” mayor Billy Alcorn said. “There was one room in the back that had been used for storage, and we made it into a city office.”

Greenfield School, from two miles southeast of Goessel, a school for 70 years before it was disorganized in 1957, was used as a granary on the John Frey farm. Later it was moved to become the home of Arlo Schmidt.

Maple Hill School, from two and a half miles southwest of Lehigh, was moved to Menno Township in 1954 and became Countryside school district. Townsend School, from three miles northeast of Peabody, was sold in 1948 to D. H. Wenger of Peabody.

Billy Alcorn said the school he attended at Antelope, four miles south of Lincolnville and used for grades 1 to 12, was moved four miles southwest of Antelope, where it became a home. He was inside the home a few years ago, he said, and the inside looked exactly as it had when he attended school.

Last modified June 18, 2020

 

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