If you know anyone who grew up around the time of the Great Depression, you’ve probably heard some variation of this story. As my 83-year-old grandpa tells it, he used to walk three miles to his humble one-room schoolhouse, through farm fields, over dirt roads and in every kind of weather, often carrying his lunch in his pocket: one hard-boiled egg.
Of course, every time I hear this story the snow gets deeper and the miles get longer. Sometimes my grandpa even has a hole in his shoe. He loves to tell a good story. But I still understand his point….
Going to school during his era (and earlier) was enormously different from the educational system we know today. Back then, one-room schoolhouses were the norm in many American communities, including the rural townships that now comprise North County. Usually home to one female teacher who instructed 10-30 students of all ages in a single classroom, they numbered 190,000 in 1919. Today, only a few hundred remain in use nationwide.
If you want to learn more about some of our local one-room schoolhouses, most of which are long gone, I highly recommend the book History of the Hazelwood School District, which you can find at the library. But if you really want to explore the past, why not go all in and buy a vintage schoolhouse of your own?
Located at 1920 Shackelford, just beyond the Florissant border near Humes Lane, the former Hyatt Valley School is currently for sale…..and it can be yours for just $39,900.
Built around 1870, when this part of NoCo was still a rural community known as St. Ferdinand, the schoolhouse sits on land that was once part of Florissant’s “common fields.” Starting prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, early settlers used and shared this fertile river valley for their farming, and in 1869, one square acre of it was deeded to the local board of education for use as a school.
Shackelford was just a wide dirt path back then, and this tiny schoolhouse was built to be quite a modest building….just a simple classroom for the local farm kids. Constructed from brick, it measured around 800 square feet and was originally heated by a pot belly stove. Not surprisingly, it also had outdoor toilets for decades and no electricity until 1932.
In 1950, after 70 years of use, Hyatt Valley School was closed after annexation by the new Hazelwood School District. It was auctioned off that same year and has been a private residence ever since. Today, I think it’s fair to say it’s just a neat old building in need of some major TLC.
As you can see from this 1911 photograph, the schoolhouse originally had large, arching windows and a massive front doorway. That has all changed. At one point it also had a small foyer (or anteroom) on the front, but that has since been replaced with a wooden front porch.
Inside….I might as well be blunt. Nothing is original. In fact, this place is definitely a victim of “remuddling,” as the editors of This Old House might put it. Tacky updates, poor maintenance…really, there hasn’t been a lot of love shown to this charming old building and its rich history.
But there is potential! For one, the schoolhouse sits on nearly an acre. And despite having frontage on busy Shackelford, it’s an amazingly private and peaceful lot that’s almost fully fenced. Talk about a perfect place for a garden or small farm! Wow!
Another upside: high ceilings and an open floor plan….or at least the bones for one. In my eyes, the schoolhouse is a big, airy loft/studio space just waiting to happen. OK, maybe not so big but definitely airy. It has a great vibe to it, and loads of natural light. Plus, if you buy it by June 30, you’ll be eligible for 3.5% in closing costs from Fannie Mae, since this is a foreclosure property.
Here’s a quick photo tour of the schoolhouse, now a one-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage… If you want more info, check out the official listing or contact realtor Jamie Loftus at (636) 397-7770.
By the way, thanks to reader Liz for the heads up on this story!
Filed Under: Real Estate