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Couple converting historic schoolhouse into their dream home

Stacie Grissom and her husband are renovating the old Hopewell Elementary School building in Franklin, Indiana.
Couple converting historic schoolhouse into their dream home
Posted at 3:34 PM, May 22, 2023

A couple with Indiana roots is taking on a major project to preserve a piece of history in their hometown.

Stacie Grissom and her husband, Sean Wilson, purchased an old schoolhouse.

"We grew up here in Franklin," said Grissom, who shares two young children with her high school sweetheart.

The pair moved to the Big Apple for their careers and found success in New York City, but a big piece of them was still in the Hoosier state.

After becoming parents, the call to come back home grew even stronger. They connected with a friend and real estate agent and mentioned they would love a unique home near their families in Franklin.

That is when their agent sent them a message that would change everything.

"The subject line was, 'Don't judge me,'" Grissom said. 

She says she got chills down her spine and she jumped out of her chair as she looked at a familiar facade in the listing.

"I mean, I remember this school when I was a little kid, driving by here," said Grissom, who immediately called her mom back home and told her that the school was for sale.

Because the couple wasn't in Indiana, Grissom's parents got a first look at the property. With their experience of commercial real estate, they walked around the old building to see if it had the potential to go from old schoolhouse to a homestead. She said her dad could see her renovation vision.

"And I was like, 'OK, here's all my savings,'" Grissom recalled. 

They took the leap of faith from miles away. "We bought it without seeing it ourselves," said Grissom.

The remodel

The building was erected in 1914 and was called Union Joint Graded School Number 9.

It's nearly 10,000 square feet of space on two floors. 

"I always wanted to live in a quirky old house," Grissom said. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have found this quirky of a house."

Grissom said they've had to replace the entire roof and install new windows. 

Framing is going up, and they are insulating the exterior walls to help with heating and cooling but are trying to preserve as much of the original brick and structures on the inside as possible.

In the planning process, Grissom traveled to the Johnson County Museum of History to look for old photos and get information about the building.

It served as a school for 20 years before closing its doors.

After the school closed, it became a barn.

"Apparently turkeys were actually kept in the living room," said Grissom. 

After the building's use as a barn, it became apartments for a period of time.

"The previous owners also loved it," said Grissom while standing in the future entryway. "And [they] kept it alive, so we can continue."

Grissom is excited to eventually host guests at the home and share the history of the building. 

People can follow along during the renovation process by checking out Grissom's Instagram page.

This story was originally published by Lauren Casey at Scripps News Indianapolis.

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