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Lewis School News

First and foremost, thank you so much for your outpouring of support since my website’s launch!  I haven’t had time to do much else beyond odd schoolhouse projects, package up orders, make local deliveries, and work on a slew of holiday commissions for many of you these past few weeks. With that in mind, I hope you’ll forgive the lack of blog updates ’til now. If we’ve learned anything while restoring the schoolhouse this year, it’s that things take the time they take. And with most of our schoolhouse-related projects, the time they take is typically three times what we expect them to take. We’ve come to refer to this as NMT, or “Northern Michigan Time.” 

Found stapled to the walls as we disassembled them: A train ticket good for one round trip between North Cadillac + Lake City, dated and signed on the other side by Mr. + Mrs. Myrl Yeomans, 1967

It was clear to us during our first walk-through of the schoolhouse in February that project one would be to knock down the walls that divided the space into three rooms. From firsthand accounts and research, it seems the walls were constructed to partition off sleeping quarters shortly after the schoolhouse was purchased by the Yeomans in a 1967 public auction. While we aren’t yet sure of the exact years, sometime between 1968 and 1990, it was rented out as a 2 bedroom home. According to the second owners, from whom we purchased the property, the residents before them had left the school full to the brim with a small landfill’s worth of garbage. I suspect old Lewis would have been grateful to see his school rescued from the undignified fate it seemed to have been headed for.

Though there was no garbage in the schoolhouse when we purchased it, it did come with plenty of stuff: sofas and chairs, doors and windows, an extra toilet, an old television, some bed frames, and an assortment of other more interesting odds and ends (cat house on wheels, cross country skis, old bell, etc.). While we’re looking forward to sorting through it all someday, the added clutter made things a little more challenging as we began our first demolition project on July 3rd.

We decided to take advantage of the long holiday weekend off from work by heading north, hoping to spend an afternoon knocking down walls, and the rest of our holiday exploring the nearby waterways and trails with our dog. One fact unknown to us at the time of this estimation, is that an afternoon in Northern Michigan time actually totals one and a half days. Working on the ever-dwindling shoestring budget of a former art teacher and a current legal aid attorney, we’ve been trying to remove all materials with care so as to reuse them later when putting the house back together. Needless to say, it’s been a delicate, sometimes discouraging, and always time-consuming process. But we stay determined, and, somehow, in great spirits still.

In case it isn’t clear from the photo to the right, one of the founding Lewis School principles is “Use what you have.” Connor claims that this was one of the original Lewisisms, but his only source is apparently the idle gossip of the spirits haunting the schoolhouse, so who really knows.

We don't have a garage at the schoolhouse and it very soon reached indoor storage capacity. While Connor continued to disassemble inside, I cobbled together this rudimentary structure for outdoor wood storage. We've continued to reinforce it as materials have become available, and it's really transformed into a strange, yet sturdy, piece. Can't wait to reveal the finished structure someday. As for now, our wood is dry despite recent snowfalls, so let's hear it for cobbling.

After knocking the final wall down, and on the heels of a 9 hour shift the prior day, we treated ourselves to an afternoon outing at a public lake about 20 minutes northeast of the schoolhouse.  We feel so grateful that the schoolhouse is surrounded on all sides by water, and we’ve been trying to balance our labor with leisure by exploring the local lakes and rivers whenever we’re able to spare the time between projects. We take our leisure very seriously at the schoolhouse, and we hope you do too. 

Moonrise at the tree farm, July 4th, 2020

Feeling revived from an afternoon of swimming, walking, and reading, we returned to the schoolhouse ready to put in a second shift removing the tin ceiling ‘til sundown. Had we known at the time just how painstaking the process of removing the tin ceiling would be, we may not have been quite so eager to knock it off our list. The moon looked lovely at least as we retired to the farmhouse next door for a night of rest + well-earned leisure, before returning for another long day of schoolhouse laboring the next morning. Being on Northern Michigan Time, morning begins promptly somewhere around 10 AM, give or take a couple hours.


Stay tuned for the removal of the century-old tin ceiling – and more – coming to the blog next Sunday!

 

‘Til then, wishing you moonlight skies to weep over + patience in all things worth anything.

xo Liza + Connor



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