Building Description Barber School - Polk Township District No. 2 Schoolhouse, Walkerton Indiana

The Polk Township District No. 2 School is located a quarter mile south of U.S. 6 at the intersection of Tamarack and 2 A Roads in Polk Township, Marshall County, Indiana. The schoolhouse is on the northeast corner of the intersection and faces south to 2A Road which is a gravel road. The area is rural and mostly surrounded by agricultural land. The schoolhouse was constructed in 1901 and was known locally as the "Barber School" due to its connection to the Barber family who lived in the area. It is constructed out of brick in a T-plan with a cloak room in the front gable section and a single large classroom forming the space between its side-gables. It retains a great deal of its architectural integrity including masonry walls, wood windows and stone sills, and interior trim. It has some simple detailing in the Queen Anne style that makes it more unique than many of the more vernacular school buildings in rural areas. These details include high pitched roofs, patterned brick details, rafter tails cut with a scroll design, and interior casings. The schoolhouse is the only resource on the site. The area around it is mowed lawn with some scrub trees growing along the east property boundary. A group of yucca plants is growing near the southwest corner of the cloak room.

The Polk Township District No. 2 School has a short split granite fieldstone foundation and orange brick walls. The bottom course of brick steps out from the walls at their base and is laid as sleepers; the top of this course has a small bed of mortar formed to shed water from the top of the bricks. The school has rusticated limestone window sills and brick segmental arches over the window and door openings. The arches are composed of two courses of rusticated brick rowlocks. The windows are 4/4 wood windows with a piece of wood trim in the space above the window and below the arch. All of the wood windows are intact; however in some locations the glass panes are missing and are covered with small pieces of plywood.

The roof has rafter tails that are scribed with a scroll design. The rafters forming the outside edge of the eave and fascia of the gabled walls are notched to rest on a wood purlin extended from the top of the masonry walls near the base of the gabled wall. A piece of wood creates a frieze board at the top of the masonry walls. Wood boards that form decking for the roof are exposed under the eaves. The roof is covered with corrugated metal. A brick chimney is located at the peak of each side gable; there are several brick missing from each chimney, but the design of the chimney is still clearly identifiable. The chimneys are broad (north/south) and narrow (east/west) and rise about 15 brick courses above the roof ridge. The fourth course of brick from the top of the chimney is a belt course; the top two courses of the chimney step out, the top further than the second, from the main chimney wall. The west chimney is one brick wider (east/west) than the east chimney and also appears to be slightly darker in color. This may indicate this chimney was reconstructed at an early date.

The facade faces south and is symmetrically arranged. The front gabled section contains the cloakroom and has a recessed entry porch with a wood floor and walls and ceiling covered in beaded board siding. The floor of the recessed entry is partially deteriorated. The entry casings have plinth blocks at their tops and bottoms; the top blocks have a rosette carved into their face. The entry has a pair of five panel wood doors. Each door has a horizontal middle panel with two vertical panels above and below the middle panel. A wood transom window divided into two panes of glass is above the pair of doors. A stone threshold block is at the base of the entry opening. Thick wood boards form a jamb at the outside corners of the opening; these join with a wood board scribed to fit beneath a wide brick arch that forms the top of the entry opening. A window is centered between the entry opening and outside corner of the cloakroom on each side of the entry opening. Immediately above the brick arches of the windows and entry are three courses of rusticated brick that extend nearly across the full width of the front gable wall. The middle course is slightly longer at each end than the course above and below it. Centered near the top of the front gabled wall is a stone building name block. It is engraved with DIS No 2 on its top line and POLK TP. 1901 on its second line. It is approximately four brick courses tall and four bricks long. Rusticated brick form a triangular pattern above and below the name block and also on each side of the block. A course of rusticated brick rowlocks is across the top of the name block. The remaining front facade to each side of the front gable is the south wall of the classroom. A window is centered in this wall on each side of the front gable/cloakroom.

The east and west elevations are mirrored. The gabled walls of the classroom have two windows. There are no windows in the side walls of the cloakroom. The north wall, or back wall of the school, also has no windows.

A photograph dating to between 1908 and 1910 shows a few exterior features on the building that are no longer present. The building originally had wood shingles on its roof and a bell cupola centered on the ridge of the cloak room. The bell cupola had wood siding on its lower walls and was open where the bell was located. The roof was a pyramidal shaped roof with flared eaves. The early photograph also shows a building, likely a wood shed, located northwest of the school building. It had wood siding. A hand pump was also located on the south side of the wood shed.

The interior of the building has some condition issues, primarily with the loss of plaster in the main classroom space. The wood floor is composed of pine boards and is intact in the cloak room and classroom, though partially deteriorated near the front doors. The plaster is mostly intact on the cloakroom's walls and ceiling but has been removed due to deterioration from the classroom walls and ceiling. This has left the brick walls and ceiling joists exposed in the classroom. Beaded board wood wainscoting is largely intact in the cloak room, but is missing in the classroom. It is assumed the wainscoting once existed in the classroom due to a nailer board's incorporation into the brick walls at a height consistent with the wainscoting in the cloakroom. The wainscoting in the cloakroom is about 30" tall and has a top piece of wood molding trim for a cap.

The wood casings around the entry doors, opening between the cloakroom and classroom, and windows are all intact. The casings are more ornate than what would be found in typical rural schoolhouses. The side and top casings are composed of layers of carved trim boards that create a wide, ornate profile. The side casings have plinth blocks at their tops and bottoms that also have ornate carvings. The top plinth block has a rosette carved onto its face. The windows also have their wood interior sills intact. The interior wood trim has been left unpainted.

The cloakroom has a coat cabinet constructed out of wood and divided into three stalls; it does not appear to be original to the building, but likely was constructed during the building's use as a school. It is located against the east wall of the cloakroom. Behind it is a narrow board with coat hooks that is located across the full width of the east wall. This likely is original to the building. Turned wood spindle corner guards are located on the plaster corners above the wood wainscoting to each outside corner of the recessed entry. A 5' wide opening is centered in the north wall of the cloakroom into the classroom. It is constructed with a large hewn wood lintel that is exposed on the south wall of the classroom due to the loss of plaster. The opening has wood planks that form a wall between the rooms with a hinged door also constructed of planks. This does not appear to be original to the building, but likely was added while it was still in use as a school, possibly to reduce heat loss from the classroom. A small attic scuttle hole is located in the cloakroom ceiling, centered in front of the entry doors.

The classroom's west wall has a brick chimney constructed one and a half brick withes into the room in the center of the wall. The east wall's chimney is flush with the wall. Both chimneys have round openings for flues and rectangular openings at their bottoms for ventilation. One ornate metal grille is still located in the building, but is no longer in the chimney wall. A nailer board also extends across nearly the whole width of the north wall of the classroom, approximately six feet above the floor. This would seem to have served the purpose of securing the top of a blackboard on the wall. Despite the loss of the interior plaster the classroom space retains its historic proportions since it has not been divided into smaller spaces or has had its floor or ceiling structures removed, or windows covered.

The school's carpentry work was completed by Frank Bennett. Plastering and stonework were completed by Joe Burnside, and the brick masonry work was completed by H. P. Mead. Only a few references were found in relationship to work completed by these men in other areas of the township. Joe Burnside did basement and cement work including one project for Edwin Monroe, the trustee who awarded contracts for the school, Frank Bennett and his brother Jessee were referenced as house carpenters. No references to H. P. Mead were found.