When a School Becomes a Home


When work brought Peter and Kay Stone to the Upper Hunter 15 years ago they set about finding a home.

Finding the old school house on the market was not something they expected.

“This came up and we loved it at first sight, an old sandstone house with a whole lot of history to it,” Peter shared.

“We just liked it because it’s so old and historical and it’s in a nice, quiet part of town.”

Merriwa Central School gifted Peter and Kay Stone a copy of their history book which features their home, the original schoolhouse, on the cover.

With help from the Historical Society, Merriwa Central School and locals around town the newcomers were able to start seeing what life their home had lived.

It was either 1850 or 1856 that the two-room sandstone school took its first class, the dates coming from school documents and a student’s printed recount respectively. Either way, there is no doubt the building has seen plenty through the years.

It just seemed fitting that Peter etch his name in stone, on a rock he came across while clearing the back of the property.

“It was closed as a school in 1919 and put on the market as a free hold block, the free hold block was cut off from the Department of Education housing land and it became a residence for 1920 on,” Peter shared, adding that the Department still owns neighbouring land.

The block still has on it the old outhouse that is now a garden shed, and remanence of where the students’ horses would have been tied for the day during class.

When the gardens are in full bloom the sandstone makes a stunning backdrop.

Peter and Kay have re-pointed the sandstone, rebuilt the back deck that is an addition done long ago that had not withstood the test of time, and built a shed and carport in their time at the property.

The shingle roof had to be replaced with tin some years ago after a fire, and plenty of internal work has been done, but there is no doubt if the walls could talk there would be plenty of stories to tell.