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Schoolhouse converted to home

Published On: Oct 14 2013 04:05:08 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 14 2013 04:28:14 PM CDT

There was a time when one and two-room schoolhouses were the norm that's not the case today but a Lehigh County man is doing his best to transform 19th century learning into 21st century living.

BRIENIGSVILLE, Pa. -

There was a time when one and two-room schoolhouses were the norm that's not the case today but a Lehigh County man is doing his best to transform 19th century learning into 21st century living.

Inside Jeff Bartos' Brienigsville, Lehigh County home, is a very stylish open floor plan minus that is a sink and kitchen.

"There is a microwave, toaster, tea pot, and I have little butane burner," Bartos explained.

Jeff is renovating this school house, which dates back to the late 19th century, he says the home, which he bought in August, fulfills a life long fantasy for his wife Donna.

"Told her this was going to be her Christmas gift, anniversary, wedding present for the next 20 years," Bartos chuckled.

As you might expect, he picked up a few gifts too.

There's a hidden trap door, stone chalkboards, even authentic textbooks.

"First addition is 1909 and there's a pile in the attic," he told us.

According to "one room schoolhouse," an online history site, the country school was the backbone of American education for 150 years.

As late as 1913 more than 200,000 such schools dotted the nation's landscape.

In the late 1950's The Clausville one room schoolhouse was the last of its kind in Lehigh County to close its doors.

For Jeff it's a subject that almost didn't get a passing grade. He and his wife make and sell scented candles. The money made pays for the house and renovations.

"We're doing half what we did in 2008," Bartos told us.

Jeff says it's been a struggle and a hard lesson in economics.

"I keep waiting for it to go back to where it was 6 or 7 years ago, but it's not," he said.

Each candle sold is another step closer to finishing. In over 100 years the times may have changed but the lessons learned inside haven't.

"The main reason I bought this is because my kids said I couldn't do it," he said.

Overcoming challenges, no matter the subject.

"I'm just going to prove them wrong," he said.