Nome Is Where The Heart Is: Schoolhouse Rebirth
Two Friends Turning Dilapidated ND Schoolhouse Into Destination
NOME, N.D. – Time has a funny way of working. It can crumble buildings. But time can also stand still, preserving memories for generations.
In a small town about an hour southwest from Fargo, there’s an effort to reverse the damage time has caused while bringing the memories it preserved into the light for a new audience.
Drive into the small town of Nome, North Dakota and one old building stands out.
But just wait and see what’s happening.
Friends Chris Armbrust and Theresa Perleberg are sharing their grand vision.
“It’s just beautiful and it’s going to be, it’s going to look like it used to”, says Perleberg.
The two bought the Nome Schoolhouse in October. The building was buried underneath years of neglect.
Perleberg adds, “Trees had gone up and I was even wondering if it was still here.”
The building is still here. Has been since 1916. But the old schoolhouse hasn’t seen students since 1970. Or much maintenance.
Perleberg admits, “It was a little bit scary when I first saw it.”
It’s a crazy sight. Buckling floors.
Armbrust explains, “All this concrete has no rebar in it.”
Twisted staircases. A ceiling collapsed onto the level below.
“This is the worst,” Armbrust says about the ceiling. “This is where you’re thinking ‘what are they doing?'”
No matter what you’re thinking, their plans for the school are big. A bed and breakfast. An events center.
There are plans for an expansion.
They want to move some of their 200 animals to the barn out back for their fiber arts businesses, and teach classes on how to make and use wool.
They want to turn a town of about 60 people into a destination. They’re not worried about attracting people to such a tiny community.
Armbrust claims, “We’re actually gonna be flying people into Fargo from all over the nation, all over the world. We have folks from Kuwait, from New Zealand.”
It is going to take an unbelievable amount of work from these two to get this building ready for visitors in about a year, but they say there is so much of the original 1916 charm left in the Nome schoolhouse, like the original wood and the windows, that it is more than worth it to preserve this piece of North Dakota history.
“I just loved it.,” says Perleberg. “Love old buildings.”
Along with the work restoring the place.
“All of that needs to be gutted out of there so we can stop. We’re gonna have all this done by June,” adds Armbrust.
They want to restore memories.
Pointing to a wall, Armbrust mentions, “We are looking for the clock that hung above there too.”
They’ve put pleas on Facebook for help from the local community.
Armbrust says, “We are searching for memories, for memorabilia, anything we can pull from folks.”
For them the response is everything they’ve wished for.
“The memories and things that people are sharing,” says Perleberg. “I share pictures every day.”
They’re still working funding, but the plan is to open the Nome Schoolhouse for a new generation this Christmas.
About funding, Armbrust says, “We’re not quite sure where they’re all coming from yet, but it’s all gonna be good.”
So they can keep the past alive while fixing it up for the future.
You can follow along the journey at the Nome Schoolhouse and share any memories you have at their Facebook page by clicking here.