COLUMBIA — Fireworks and big holes in the ground. That is 13-year-old Zach Baldwin’s plan for property his parents bought at the Columbia Public Schools’ auction Tuesday. But his mother, Angela Baldwin, has different plans for the lot with an old schoolhouse on it. Baldwin and her husband, Joseph, purchased the 0.79-acre lot at Wade School and Akeman Bridge roads for $20,000. They had been eyeing the property since they moved into the neighborhood more than 10 years ago.
“We live right next door,” Angela Baldwin said. “We would like to build a house there and incorporate the main part of the school building if we can.”
They had hoped to spend about $10,000, but interest from other neighbors kicked up the price. “It was a block party,” Baldwin said of the morning auction at the district’s Administration Building.
Close to 20 people attended the auction. The Wade School property was the only one of eight that sold. “Maybe when the economy picks up, we will be able to try again,” said Nick Boren, chief operations officer for the district.
Chester Edwards, who oversees Building Services, said all eight properties were appraised and minimum bids were set before the auction. No bids were received on the Strawn School or Ballenger Lane properties. The other six lots had bids, but none except for the Wade School property met the minimum bid prices at which the lots were appraised.
Money from the sale must go back into the Capital Projects Fund, which is used for land, facilities, equipment and other projects valued at more than $1,000.
The Baldwins purchased the land with an inheritance left by Angela Baldwin’s father. She thinks this is a good way to use it. “I’m investing my dad’s hard-earned money,” said Baldwin, a registered nurse at Boone Hospital Center. Joseph Baldwin works with computers at Carfax.
She is looking to build a home that will tailor to the needs of her husband, who has multiple sclerosis. These plans include wide doorways and hallways, appliances on the main level of the house and a handicap-accessible shower, along with a circle drive and bedrooms upstairs for when their children, both those currently at home and those who have moved away, visit.
The Baldwins’ have three of their own children and also care for their nephew and two nieces. Baldwin made sure that her son, Zach Baldwin, and nephew, Erik Stallsworth, knew they would be involved in the upkeep, including lawn mowing duties.
“You thought you had a lot to mow before...” Angela Baldwin told the boys as they all stood in the driveway talking about the new lot. Their expanded kingdom smelled richly of the morning thunderstorm’s humid aftermath.
The Baldwins do not expect to start work on the schoolhouse property right away. Instead, they are continuing to focus on the needs of their current home. With the neighboring property now theirs, the family can daydream about just what to do with it.
What would you do with an old schoolhouse? Let us know at Schoolhouse Talk, the Columbia Missourian’s online discussion of schools, schoolhousetalk.blogspot.com