Second life of Buckeye School


The old one-room schools that were so prevalent in Edgar County are almost lost to the memories of those who taught in them or were students.

During the early 20th Century, there were 142 one-room schools in the county. Most of those old schools served grades one through eight until just after World War II. As the population of the county decreased, so did the number of schoolhouses. This came to a dramatic climax with the consolidation of school districts in the 1940s and 1950s. Many of the old buildings and the ground they stood on were sold to neighboring farmers and speculators in this 20-year period.

The vicinity around Paris became Community School District #4 in 1948, and this included Buckeye School. Instead of all eight grades, it now only had two grades, but the school still had as many students.

In 1949, the Buckeye School playground got an unexpected addition provided by Harold Snearly, who owned the pasture next to the school. He built a ladder crossing the fence so students could use his pasture as a ball field. There was also a well next to the Route 1 highway the kids used for drinks and to carry a bucket full to the school for washing purposes. Usually, there were around 20 kids attending that school with just one teacher.

Unit Four built Crestwood School and sold the various other school properties. In 1956, Buckeye was sold to L. Cliff Pearman, who bought the school building and the one-half acre it was on. After a thorough renovation by Floyd Harper, it was rented for a time until February 1958 when Marvin and Twila Carwell bought it.

He was a teacher at Vance School in Paris and they had one son, Steven, and were looking to move from their apartment in Paris. This home in the country, the old Buckeye setting, was their first choice. It was only four miles north of town on a good highway, which took the Carwells to the city easily and quickly for shopping and his school duties.

A cold winter accompanied the first year they lived in the old school house, and Marvin Carwell was determined to make a basement so they could have a furnace to keep them warmer. The old stove arrangement the school used was replaced by a better heating system, which made the house cozy.

Eventually the Carwells had three boys, Gary born in 1958 and David in 1965.

The house is well kept and a testimony to what a little ingenuity and persistence can do because it is now 60 years old. Located at the corner of state Route 1 and 1375th Road, it is just enough in the country to be out of town.

Marvin Carwell passed in 2000, but he created, with guidance from his wife, a livable house with a comfortable living room and enough bedrooms for his family.

It has several unique features, a nice kitchen and even a door for an inner passage to a two-car garage. It is much different than the old school with only its boy and girl washrooms and a very plain classroom.

Visitors can tell this transition of the old school into a loving home for its occupants is quite remarkable. It is much different from blackboards on the walls, a smoky old stove and 20 kids tracking in and banging the door as they went out to recess. Instead of a place where school lessons were learned and then abandoned in the middle of summer, it got a new life.

A family grew up here with guidance from a dutiful father and mother. It was a full-time home and an enjoyable place to be. The old pump is gone from the well, which still serves the house.

A tradition was established by those who thought the water was special and those people had to have it for cooking. Francis Sullivan solved the problem by taking the pump out and sealing the well, so there were no more cars stopping by just to get water from the old well that school kids previously used for drinking.

Twila Carwell, who is approaching 90, still lives there and delights in having neighborhood children visit her for an impromptu tea party. There are marks on a wall that show the heights of her family and those who came to visit her. She also delights in her sons’ families and welcomes them home and visits with them via the telephone.

Twila Carwell generously provided a tour of the wonderful abode and said we are all a bit of living history, thus the reason for this story.