48 In Life/ Renovations

The School House


The one room school house on my parents property is the last standing one-room school house in Wabash County, Illinois. My dad bought it in 2005  from the local Ruritans Club {a civic organization for “rural” folks}  for $1. They found termites and were planning to destroy the structure and replace it with a Morton Building when DaddyBoy stepped in.

He had it moved 5 blocks to the northwest corner of his farm. DaddyBoy is pictured below standing in front of the building during the moving process.


It cost him $15,000 to move it and build the new foundation. Shortly after moving it they painted the inside, re-roofed it,  installed 2 new bathrooms {one for boys and one for girls}, installed new windows, back doors, a handful of reproduction school house lights, new kitchen appliances and a new  HVAC unit. The front doors, floors, kitchen and chalkboards are all original {maybe not to the original 1920s version but original to when he bought it}.


The school house now permanently sits about 100 yards behind their renovated farmhouse {from the early 1800s} and is used for family functions. The camp house below sits between the farmhouse and the school house and is their current “project” and has just been updated with new columns and energy efficient windows.


The back porch of the school house looks over the farm. The back porch was another phase of the renovation and serves as the location for the 4th of July fish fry.


In 2006, Erika & Chance had their rehearsal dinner in the school house and their wedding reception in the barn. She talks more about it in this post. It is ideal for any home maker who has just witnessed her grandchildren tear into approximately 12,756 gifts to be able to walk away from a total disaster and host family in a separate building. I think everyone needs a school house!


Every Christmas DaddyBoy serves us his specialty standing rib roast from the very unpretentious school house kitchen. This year he accompanied the roast with cauliflower timbales and brought down cheesecakes from Eli’s.





Another Christmas family tradition is BINGO. Everyone brings white elephant prizes and lots of laughs are had… especially when some gifts reappear year after year.


Most of the tables and chairs in the school house have been donated by various family members, either from their own collection or have been collected from yard sales and estate sales through the years.

DaddyBoy has already started dreaming about the next renovation phase of the school house which will include a wood burning fireplace.

I think that covers the school house!

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  • Kristen
    December 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Absolutly amaizing! I would love to do the same thing with a house someday! 🙂 Beautiful!!!

  • Melissa
    December 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I am very jealous – that would be so much fun to have. My mom has wanted one for awhile. So lucky to have a great place for family.

  • Miranda
    December 30, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I love your family togetherness and how you capture it on camera. You are blessed to have such a wonderful family!!
    Your blog is my absolute favorite! I love it when you blog. Happy New Year!

  • Amber E
    December 30, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    That is amazing! I love the schoolhouse. I would love to see more pictures of Daddyboy’s farm. It looks just beautiful! Thanks for sharing with us all 🙂

  • melissa
    December 30, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    You know, I think your parents life is pretty much what I want to have someday…it looks like SO much fun!

  • Kelli
    December 30, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Oh my, I could live there! What a nice place they have and what a nice retreat for you and your family. Thanks for sharing.

  • laura
    December 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Wonderfull story……here in Italy where i live is really hard to do a thing such this…because the houses are so heavy and not in wood…so the only thing you can do is take a caterpillar and demolish.
    You have a wonderfull place where to stay with your big family…i love your picture.

  • Sherrie
    December 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I am so glad you shared the story of the schoolhouse. What an incredible gift your parents have for renovations.

  • Brittan
    December 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Wonderful story! Thank you for sharing that with us. How special for you and Erika and also all the grandchildren. It all sounds lovely!

  • Cassity @ Remodelaholic
    December 30, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for posting about this! I love to hear about renovations. I am a totally This Old House addict, when my magazine comes every month I immediately flip to the last page to see what old building needs saving and moving. Also, it is interesting to hear what it would cost to do something like that!

    I was thinking it would be so fun to have your parents do a guest post about one of their projects from start to finish… although it may not be what you want for the style of your blog. I just love seeing what they have done!

    Thanks again!

  • Kelly
    December 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    That’s really fantastic! It looks like something out of Country Living or some other fun magazine!

  • kasey
    December 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    just wondering if and when you come back here to illinois if i might get a tour of the schoolhouse;-)

  • abbie
    December 30, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    sounds like such a fun place for family functions!

    I like the idea of a bingo tradition. Appeals to all ages–great idea!

  • Jacci
    December 30, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Oh, my. I love this. Actually, I love your parents. You can tell your mom that at least one of your readers would like to be just like her when she reaches grandma status 🙂 Oh, and I’d like a property just like theirs, too – as long as I had helping hands around, that is!

    DaddyBoy’s roast looks scrum-dilli-icious. We always have a boring old ham for both Christmas and Easter. I think we need to shake things up a bit, don’t you? Maybe I’ll ask for permission to break tradition next year and do a pork roast.

    Love the photos! Thanks for sharing all about the schoolhouse 🙂

    ~Jacci in Ohio

  • Alexia
    December 30, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    These are wonderful and what a great story. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of months and just love everything that you post. Your pictures are SO good too. Plus, your birthday party motivated me to try to recreate the large cupcake cake for my son’s first birthday. Thanks again for sharing your life with us and your faith. It’s very inspiring. Have a great new year!

  • Ayanna
    December 30, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I love, love, love this school house. How wonderful it must be to celebrate with your family and friends there. Glad to hear you all had a Very Merry Christmas.

  • Lori
    December 30, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    that is really great – what history in the 1 room school house. thanks for sharing – great pics!

  • Lisa D.
    December 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Absolutely love your blog! You and your sister have a gift for writing and photography. I also enjoy reading about how you incorporate faith into a modern family lifestyle. It is such a breath of fresh air to read your work – please have a wonderful, blessed New Year!

  • Molly
    December 30, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Your blog really encourages me! I love reading your entries. Your kiddos are so stinkin’ cute… I can’t even stand it! May 2010 be a wonderful year for you and your family!!!
    p.s. you’re really talented too.

  • Ms. Bright
    December 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    So many amazing traditions! How cool that your daddy does these restorations. He’s definitely on my list of awesome individuals!

    Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us. It’s been so encouraging to me to read both yours and Erika’s blogs.

    May the Lord bless you even more in 2010!

  • Cora
    December 30, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Beautiful…..I wish I had a school house…I would have so much fun in it! 🙂

  • kasey
    December 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Love the history behind the school house. It’s great. Bingo is such a fun game.

  • Elaine
    December 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I need that recipe for the Rib Roast! yum!

    Please pack me in your suitcase next time you visit your parents. So much fun! We do dirty Santa and Nemo the Elf at Christmas. It’s hysterical! I am gonna post some videos on my blog soon!


  • Norma Lee Good
    December 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    This is without a doubt the coolest thing EVER to have on your property. One of my good friends got a house for “free” in the Heights in Houston- with just one stipulation that she move it. She paid $40K to move it but it was worth it!

  • Trisha
    December 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    That’s really neat!

  • Erin
    December 30, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Wow! Incredible! I just love this post-the school house is incredible as is the entire property. What a great place for your kids to be able to visit and run and play! Our next house is definitely going to be on some acreage! 🙂

  • Ashley
    December 30, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    $1- really? What a lucky little schoolhouse, to have a family that loves on it so much 🙂

  • Barb
    December 30, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing!! I love renovation stories and photos! That farm looks like such a neat place and I admire what your parents have done there.

  • Trisha
    December 30, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    p.s. What an awesome setting for an intimate wedding. I’d love to hear more about that too. 😉

  • Anna
    December 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    more beautiful than words

  • Konie
    December 30, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!!!!!!!!!!! Especially looking at these pictures with your family, and on their farm, I’m just mesmerized!!!! First…what a gift you have with your photography…it’s like reading the best book!! Second…I feel like I’m in another world!! And it’s a peaceful one 🙂 Third…I’m AMAZED by how many people in HOOVER,AL ask me if I know Darby Stickler!!! (since I have my very special connection to Dothan :)) I get so excited when I can say that “I’ve met Justin and “Rover” ” !! AND driven by your home!! When I get to Dothan…..many will come from Hoover to visit me….mainly because they want to ride by DARBY’S :):):)Thanks for sharing your family, faith, and God given gifts ….to us all:) Looking forward to 2010 with the Stickler’s 🙂

  • jewelee
    December 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I have so much respect for your parents preserving the gems in their community. It is truly inspirational.

  • Heather
    December 30, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I just love this story. How perfect – thank you!

  • Pony Girl
    December 31, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Fascinating story…how cool your parents rehab these old places! It is really a charming, special place for you family to have!! I think there will be many memories and fun times to be had there over the years….a place to gather is always a family treasure!

  • Bon
    December 31, 2009 at 8:16 am

    What a touching story Darby, you must be so proud of your father. Thank you so much for sharing. It brought a big smile to my face.

    Happy ‘New Years Eve’ Day 🙂

  • Katherine @ Grass Stains
    December 31, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Darby, at the year’s end, I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you sharing your family with all of us and how beautiful — inside and out — you all are. It’s a pleasure to have found you this year (and I went back and read all the archives, too!), and I wish many blessings for you all in the new year.

    Birmingham, Ala.

  • Leigh Scott
    December 31, 2009 at 9:58 am

    How cool is the farm and all of it’s wonderful old buildings?! Your parents have quite a collection! I can see you get your good taste honestly. Happy New Year to you and yours:)

  • hilaryd
    December 31, 2009 at 10:19 am

    darby, i love reading about your parent’s home. it looks and sounds like a wonderful place to visit and create memories! you capture your memories so well! merry christmas + happy new year! hilary

  • Robin
    December 31, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Hooray for your Dad! I love the fact that he saved a historic building! I hope to do the exact samething one day and put it on our farm! Here is to me finding the same thing and remodeling it!! Only in a few years after I’m done with my house! I always get ahead of myself!

    Love your blog,

  • Cate O'Malley
    December 31, 2009 at 11:27 am

    How wonderful is that?! I’ve seen (and ripped out) pictures in magazines like Southern Living and others where there is a separate smaller house on the property, serving as a place for an office, family meal and the sort. I’ve filed them away for now (not enough space on this property) but one of those days when you never know. Love your parents’ space!

  • Heather
    December 31, 2009 at 12:22 pm


    I applaud your father-and mother- for such efforts of preserving past history. Too many beautiful old structures are being torn down in our area and it makes me sick to my stomach. My husband and I would be doing the same thing if our finances would allow. Yeah to your parents for having such passion and vision for projects such as this!!! It truly is a God-given gift. I see it runs in the family!!! My husband and I love renovating and are told we have the vision (we always buy the ugliest house on the block) but we have never tackled such a project as this. It is truly a beautiful school house. Your parents estate looks like a dream spot!!


  • Kaylene
    December 31, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    do you know how much I love the schoolhouse? I do I do.

  • Mandy
    December 31, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    What fun for your parents to be able to enjoy their passion and what a great service to the community!

  • Kaela
    January 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Oh, I was hoping you would post about it! It is beautiful. As is the entire farm. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda Kuzak
    January 2, 2010 at 1:51 am

    What an amazing story! It is so great that your dad saved a piece of history. My parents have a cabin on their property and it is so nice to have family get events there. My mom is always more relaxed because we aren’t at her house making a mess. What a neat place for your kids to visit.

  • Kristi
    January 2, 2010 at 3:34 am

    LOVE the schoolhouse! What a wonderful property your parents have! Thanks for sharing it with us! And what a wonderful piece of history to have all your family gatherings in!!!

  • Annmarie
    January 3, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Don’t tell Erika, but your photos are the best!! Happy New Year to you all!!!!!!!!!! – AM

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