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Lessons in Living

This historic schoolhouse received a total remodel to give it that “old school” look, but with updated amenities.

Nestled away in Litchfield in historic Milton is one of the town’s original schoolhouses. The schoolhouse was originally built in 1846 and was used as the town school until 1946, when it closed its doors to students for the last time.

The building was offered to the community after this, but there were no funds for its upkeep and it was eventually sold to the Hugh Todd family, who used it as their residence.

Timothy and Ann Egan purchased the schoolhouse in March 2007, and have since given it a revamped look. Timothy, who owns Litchfield-based Revolutionary Restorations & Building, LLC, bought the schoolhouse because he enjoys restoring historic homes. “Tim can walk into a place and see what it will look like when it is done,” says Ann. “He always knew [what the schoolhouse would look like]. He is like that with every project.”

Timothy started the project by gutting the inside of the schoolhouse, removing all partitions and newer materials that had been added over the years. In doing so, he was able to restore the original 12-foot ceilings, which had previously been lowered, and also brought back the original bead board walls. “I gutted it [the building] until I found the old material.” He says. New electoral wiring, HVAC, plumbing and insulation were all added to the house.

Crown molding was installed to give the rooms a personal touch, and coffered ceilings were added to the living and dining areas of the home. Timothy laid a dark hickory wood floor throughout the house, greatly enhancing its historic charm.

He retained the original windows, which not only featured the original antique glass, but their original weight-pulley systems. With the white walls and large windows, the rooms receive plenty of natural light, bringing a glow to the rooms.

The kitchen got a historically sensitive makeover as well. Crown moldings lend an elegant, old-time air to the space, and utility latches—one of the latest trends in kitchen cabinet design—were chosen as the finishing touch for the new, custom-made kitchen cabinets. Granite counter tops were chosen for their utility, durability and beauty.

Large white columns help to separate this part of the house into the kitchen, living and dining areas, giving all three areas a very open feel.

In the living room, Timothy added several built-in shelving units, including a cabinet where a television can be hidden away behind closed doors when not in use. A gas insert fireplace adds warmth and character. From the living room, French doors lead outdoors to a patio made from Pennsylvania bluestone.

Off of the living room area, an entryway leads to the two bedrooms of the home.

To the left is the master bedroom, which at one time served as the recitation room of the schoolhouse. This room was added to the original schoolhouse in 1902. The room is small, but filled with light that comes in through the windows and new French doors that also lead out to a private patio.

Attached to the master suite is a gorgeous master bathroom, titled with limestone. Among the room’s amenities are pedestal sinks and a shower stall with all-nickel fixtures. Steps lead up to a large, deep tub, surrounded by windows that bring lots of natural light into the room while offering a beautiful view of the outdoors. Because of space constraints, built-in storage was added to both sides to the tub. All of the storage areas are custom-built.

The smaller bedroom in the house also has its own private bathroom, featuring marble floors, custom-made vanities and a shower with a seat inside it. Timothy installed pull-down stairs in this bedroom to provide access to an additional small storage area.

Other features of the home’s interior include a mudroom in the back entrance and another half bathroom.

According to the Egans, not much could be changed on the outside of the schoolhouse. “We are in a historic district, [so] we had to make sure the historic integrity was kept,” Timothy says. “The real challenge was to take the existing footprint and make something out of it.”

On the exterior, all of the old siding was retained, and repainted white. The bell tower at the top of the house was fixed and can be rung from the front of the home. A flagpole was also added to the top of the bell tower cupola.

With the renovation finished, Timothy says, “This is one of the projects that we will remember when we are old.” Ann adds that the community is benefiting from the restoration as well. “people are happy that it was revitalized,” she says.

This article was originally published in HomeLiving Connecticut Magazine.

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