Abandoned 100-year-old schoolhouse has been brought back to life

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has honored three projects nationwide and the restored and preserved Nome Schoolhouse in Barnes County has been given a huge honor.

The Nome Schoolhouse, now restored, has been awarded the Driehaus Preservation Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Contributed / Shepherd Industries, LLC.
We are part of The Trust Project.

NOME, N.D. — When the restored and preserved Nome Schoolhouse opened again a year ago, the whole town showed up. So did former students who went there.

"Their vision and their dedication to preserving things has just been amazing to me," said former Nome Schoolhouse student Jim Storhoff.

Who isn't impressed with the before and after pictures. An abandoned building bound for demolition or collapse, saved by two women with a vision. Teresa Perleberg and Chris Armbrust purchased the schoolhouse in 2018 and now use it to house their business Shepherd Industries LLC.

"Because it was pretty huge for this tiny, little town that doesn't have any other businesses," Perleberg said.

"And the fact we have no renovation background," Armbrust added.


The two women have turned the school into a boutique hotel, event center and place to teach and create fiber arts.

"It was worth it," Perleberg said.

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"That is what I was going to say. It cost more, it was more work, but in the end, it is so worth all the struggles," Armbrust said.

The country is taking notice, including from the National Trust for Historic Preservation out of Washington D.C.

The trust has chosen the Nome Schoolhouse as one of three recipients to receive the Driehaus Preservation Award.

"I know that the jury here was (...) pleased to be able to highlight this project, but they were also pleased to highlight this project that was having such a tremendous impact in a small community in a rural area," said Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

"I was shocked. I really thought it was a long shot," Perleberg said.

"And then when we looked at the winners from last year, then we were like, 'whoa, this is kind of big,'" Armbrust said.


For the Nome Schoolhouse, it's a chance to toot a horn.

Some things are worth saving. Especially in our own rural backyard.

"(T)here are people who just want to knock it down and rebuild. And even as we were doing the renovations, so often we heard, 'well, we can just tear that off and remake it,' and we're like, 'no,'" Armbrust said.

The owners of the Nome School said interest for their fiber arts business and school is coming from countries around the world.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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