In 1876, William Carpenter granted the trustees of Harrison Township a portion of his land on which to erect a schoolhouse1. Five years later, J.C. Muncey served as teacher2. In 1894, a frame United Brethren church was constructed to the school’s southwest, opposite a jog in West County Road 700-North3.
The Beech Grove school started as a subscription schoolhouse rather than as a public school; patrons paid to attend classes there. That may be the reason why the building is so much larger and more ornate than most others in the county. Indeed, the schoolhouse was a modern structure for its time, featuring an entrance hall, one large and two smaller cloakrooms, and windows that illuminated the classroom from the left and rear of the students there4. At one point, the schoolhouse featured an open, wooden belfry5.
Like the majority of Harrison Township’s schoolhouses, the District 4 school closed at the end of the 1923-24 year in order for its students to attend classes at the new Harrison Township consolidated school6. In 1927, the building was sold to the Beech Grove Methodist Church, which had been conducting its services at the old building southwest of the school. Although the congregation initially flourished in its new home7, the 1963 construction of I-69 reduced the size of the church’s lot to three-fifths of an acre8. The land and building were deeded to the Epworth Methodist Church two-and-a-half miles southwest in Madison County, with which the congregation merged9.
Former congregants Howard and Genevieve Morgan purchased the structure after its closure before selling it in 1975 to developer Paul Keller, who collaborated with Ball State residential interiors class to draw blueprints for the building’s reuse10. Unfortunately, the building ultimately fell into disrepair.
Today, the property is abandoned, and held by an out-of-state owner. The old schoolhouse is visible from I-69, but it’s almost impossible to photograph up-close without trespassing.
1 Delaware County, Indiana. (1876 August 19). Deed Book 41. p. 410.
2 Helm, T. B. (1881). Mount Pleasant Township. In History of Delaware County, Indiana: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. book, Kingman Brothers.
3 Delaware County Map, 1900 (2018, October 1). Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.
4 Black, E. (1917, June 8). Sketch and Views of Delaware County Schools. The Muncie Press. p. 6.
5 Farrell, J. (1955, June 25). Delaware County, in 1905, Supported 98 Public Schools. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 1-C.
6 Delaware County Public Schools. (1923). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1923-1924. Muncie, IN.
7 McBride, M. (2007, May 30). I-69 doomed rural church. The Muncie Star Press. p. 6B.
8 (See footnote 7).
9 Winters, R. (1975, April 27). Old Church and School Waits for a Homeowner. The Muncie Star. p. 1
10 (See footnote 9).