What used to be the sound of a school bell ringing to summon children inside to learn is now a carrying echo of coffee orders and good conversation. The one-room schoolhouse that sat empty for many years intrigued Schoolhouse 7 Cafe owners, Curt and Sarah Tappendorf, who decided to preserve the schoolhouse’s history while creating a new, local gathering space for community members. Located at the intersection of Cyntheanne Road and Southeastern Parkway, Schoolhouse 7 Cafe is widely known amongst community members for its delicious café drinks and food, as well as its history.
With Fishers’ Sesquicentennial celebration happening this year celebrating its 150th birthday, it is important to highlight the history of Schoolhouse 7 Cafe and how it has impacted the city over the past 150 years.
Picture taken in front of Schoolhouse 7’s drive-thru window
The original schoolhouse was built in 1900 and was open through 1945. Through previous students Charles Whelchel and Dr. George Underwood, Curt and Sarah were able to understand more about where the students played outside, ate lunch, and learned. Dr. Underwood donated some of his old report cards and class photos that can be seen in their private event space called George’s Study.
Dr. George Underwood’s report card from 1936
While it’s important to renovate and make things new, preserving history can be just as special. The floorboards of the schoolhouse were repurposed to create the face of the front bar and the back wall behind the espresso machines. The upstairs community table was built from the main level floor joists that were removed when the concrete floor was installed. It was important to the Tappendorfs, and co-owners Brit and Julie Killinger, that parts of the existing schoolhouse were on display and remodeled into something that was useful for the café.
“The café provides a sense of gathering,” Curt said. “We wanted to make sure that we brought things back to the way it was in the old days. If you go in there, you’ll see we don’t have newspapers or TVs. It’s a place where people can come in and sit down with others.” Curt also explained how important it is to be able to host events, not only inside, but outside on the treehouse deck, or outdoor green space.
Schoolhouse 7 Cafe has played a role in the smart, vibrant, and entrepreneurial essence of Fishers, while preserving local history and 150 years of the city. During Fishers’ Sesquicentennial year, the coffeehouse highlights Fishers’ history and importance of education, along with its impact on the local community.
“Our education system is a big reason why many families move to Fishers,” said Curt. “Being able to preserve one of the original schools in the area, has allowed us to highlight the memories of Schoolhouse 7’s past, while maintaining that gathering place to keep that sense of community for years to come.”
Schoolhouse 7 Cafe is open for business during the Cyntheanne Road and Southeastern Parkway roundabout construction. Visit them using this detour map and learn more on their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Grace Gerig has lived in Fishers her entire life and graduated from Hamilton Southeastern High School in 2020. A junior at Purdue University, Grace is studying Public Relations and Strategic Communication, minoring in Political Science and Human Resource Management, and pursuing a Collaborative Leadership Certificate. At Purdue, Grace is involved with Boiler Communication, a student-run Public Relations agency, and serves as an Account Executive on their leadership team. Grace was a 2-year member of the nationally recognized Purdue Dance Team and enjoys teaching dance and choreographing routines. She is also involved with her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, and manages her chapter’s Instagram. On weekends, Grace likes to work out in the morning at the F45 Fishers/Geist location, grab a Dunkin iced coffee, and sit with her family on their back porch. Follow her on Instagram and LinkedIn.