HOMES OF DISTINCTION: Lachine home was Mennonite church, one-room schoolhouse
LACHINE — If you had visited 16183 Reider School Road back in 1955, you would have been greeted by the sight of a small Mennonite church that acted as a one-room schoolhouse that hosted children from the Wellington, Royston, Leer, and Long Rapids areas.
Now, you would see a house with a well-kept garden area on either side of the entrance, a silver star at its center, and a story to tell.
When Brandy Norton bought the house in 2004, she was looking for a comfortable house that she could make her own.
“I was looking for a place that was quiet, that had character, and that I could fix up,” Norton said.
The building had already been transitioned from a church to a house by the time Norton came into possession of it, so most of Norton’s work on the building was in the form of cosmetics.
“The layout was done, so I pretty much did a complete layout of the cosmetics stuff,” Norton said. “I also did functional stuff like the roof, but, basically, I did a complete cosmetic overhaul.”
Despite making those changes, Norton holds a deep interest in respect for the house’s history and origins as a church and school.
“When I was looking at this house, I learned it was formerly a Mennonite church with a one-room schoolhouse, which interested me immediately,” Norton said. “My great-grandmother was a one-room schoolhouse teacher so that sparked my immediate interest.”
After doing some of her own research into the house and its previous owners, Norton learned that the building used to be the Wellington Mennonite Church, which served people in the surrounding communities from July 17, 1955 to June 23, 1974.
Over the years, Norton has been able to meet and talk with former members of the church and their families, such as the family of Pastor Harols Sharp, who was ordained to the church on Sept. 16, 1956 and moved his family to the Wellington area in November of that year. Norton said that knowing that history and having those interactions has given her an even deeper appreciation for her home.
“I’ve been very fortunate not only to find the history on paper, but to have met former parishioners and the family of Pastor Harold Sharp,” Norton said. “Having the historical photographs as well as the shared stories has really connected me to my home.”