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Old Parkton schoolhouse now a cozy historic home

In the usual course of life's events, most people go to school. Very few people, however, buy a schoolhouse and call it home.

In the usual course of life's events, most people go to school. Very few people, however, buy a schoolhouse and call it home.

"It's old and unusual, but wears its age so well," said Heather Wirth, who along with her husband, Steve Bogucki, purchased the circa-1888, two-room schoolhouse in Parkton on St. Patrick's Day 1990. "It's fun living in a building with a past that's had so many other uses — first as a school, then as a duplex, then as an antiques shop [and] now a home again!"

After three years of house-hunting in the area, Wirth said it was love at first sight when she pulled up to the schoolhouse, complete with a vestibule and a flagpole, off York Road.

Architecturally, the structure remained the same until the late 1930s, when its then-owners lowered the long windows under 14-foot ceilings and added a second story under the steeply pitched roof. Today, three bedrooms and one bathroom are tucked into the second floor, with windows only at the sides of the 20-by-40-foot home. The natural light deficiency was solved by the addition of skylights.

"The home still has its original German [clapboard] siding, but when we first bought the house, it was shedding its paint," said Wirth, a 54-year old attorney who practices elder care law. "So Steve took a week off from work to paint it."

A week was hardly enough time, as the couple soon realized. So every spring for the next 10 years, they would take a week to scrape and paint — tackling one side of the school house a year, working their way around its exterior. After painting, they applied stain, and then discovered a liquid siding developed in Canada.

A spray-on stain applied over the wood took workers five days and four layers. Their little gold schoolhouse has not needed touching up for over 10 years now. The gold is a pleasant period-style contrast to white windows framed with brown shutters and doors.

Up a short flight of steps is a small porch (all the original wood) and the school's original front door. Inside is the 10-by-15-foot beadboard vestibule, featuring a period school desk and photos on the walls of the building in its schoolhouse days, with children playing on the lawn.

Beyond this charming anteroom are the two large 19th-century classrooms, with an old chimney where a potbelly stove once stood. With the help of partitions and drywall, the rooms have been adapted into a great room, den and kitchen, all flanking a center hallway.

Off the great room's rear wall are double doors opening onto a screened porch. A large wood-burning brick fireplace sits against the room's north wall. The yellow pine floors were a later addition, because the original boards had too many holes from desks being bolted to them. Nevertheless, the floor has become as stressed and worn over the years as the original might have been.

The couple paid $140,000 for the 2,000-square-foot schoolhouse, and found the inside to be in good condition. "What you see is pretty much what it was when we bought it," Wirth said.

Wirth and Bogucki did do a few renovations, including a kitchen update with new pine cabinets that included drawers. The L-shaped silestone counter is fitted with stainless-steel appliances with a pass-through over the sink and into the den.

The homey feel of the old schoolhouse is, in large part, due to the interior's preserved beadboard walls and original wood doors, along with the couple's furnishings, which they call "eclectic early attic."

"We have an oak chest and a brass and iron bed that we're very proud of [and] are very old," Wirth said. "We got them for free when the estate of a distant relative was broken up. We came in last and scooped up the antiques."

In addition to leather sofas, woven sea-grass chairs and a hutch for a 50-inch flat-screen TV, the great room includes a dining room table made by Wirth's father.

"It's made of walnut and is 8 feet long and 40 inches wide," said Bogucki, a 60-year-old field service engineer with Oracle. "I call it 'the aircraft carrier.' "

The couple enjoy visiting antiques shops, and they switch and rearrange furniture often.

They also undertook the multilevel landscaping of almost 1 acre of fenced-in land behind the house. In addition to maple trees grown from seedlings, Bogucki planted acorns that became three beautiful oak trees. There are also dogwood trees and seasonal vegetables and herbs.

Among the trees is a free-form, built-in pool with a dark pebbled interior that creates a pondlike appearance.

"We love living in beautiful, downtown Parkton, where we're so close to nature," Wirth said. "And telling someone that you live in an old school is a great conversation starter at parties."

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Send an email to homes@baltsun.com.

If you go

The old Parkton School is featured on the Baltimore County portion of the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage tour taking place Sunday, May 4.

Check out the website, mhgp.org, for additional details, or call 410-821-6933.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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