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Bartholomew County residents saddened after 129-year-old schoolhouse burns

Set to be demolished at the end of the week
Posted at 7:23 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 07:28:15-04

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY — The loss of a 129-year-old one-room schoolhouse is being felt in Bartholomew County.

On Monday, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers shared the news of the old Petersville School House going up in flames.

It shocked and saddened the community. The schoolhouse had stood there since 1892 and was a landmark for generations of people, including Tony Harden.

Harden owned it because it was on his farmland that has been in his family for years. It has been part of his life, his whole life.

"Several years ago, I decided I'm going to cut that piece of plaster out. It had my grandpa's handwriting on it from 1947," Harden said, highlighting the connection his family had to the building.

Old schoolhouse on fire

It was special for him and siblings to know their family was connected to an important landmark where they grew up. However, the building sat empty for quite some time, making it a prime target for those up to no good.

"We have tried for years and years, keeping the doors nailed shut and the windows on. The last several years, I've just kind of gave up because they can tear them down quicker than I can build them up," Harden said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. However, Harden and many others believe it set intentionally.

A $5,000 reward is being offered to anyone who comes with information. You're asked to call 1-800-382-4628 if you have information.

On social media, dozens of people are sharing their memories of the old schoolhouse.

Some people sharing pictures they took of it, others sharing pictures of the student who went to the school that closed in 1924. Everyone agrees it is a sad situation. Harden says he's not surprised by the reaction.

"It'll be missed by more than just my family. It'll be missed by the whole community," Harden said.

Harden plans to have the building demolished by the end of this week.