There’s nothing better than grabbing a hot drink and homemade goods with friends and family. Schoolhouse 7 Café welcomes residents to enjoy both while celebrating local history.

The journey to create this welcoming environment began in November 2017 when Curt and Sarah Tappendorf were on their way to their daughter’s parent-teacher conference. The couple saw a realtor putting up a “For Sale” sign on the corner of Southeastern Parkway and Cyntheanne Road. They made an offer to purchase the property that evening, it was accepted, and the conversion and restoration began.

After buying the property, Curt introduced himself to his new neighbor, HSE Intermediate and Junior High School Principal Tim Mankin. To his surprise, Mankin showed him a binder that was prepared by Schoolhouse 7 class of 1940 graduate, Dr. George Underwood. This binder was full of history: the school curriculum, disciplines, cafeteria items, transportation information, report cards, and pictures gave Curt a new level of insight on his new purchase.

“We didn’t want to rent out the space for a use that didn’t align with our vision,” said Curt. “We
wanted this schoolhouse to have an immediate purpose for the surrounding community. When we were unable to find that tenant, we decided to do it ourselves.”

For the next year and a half, the Tappendorfs worked on renovating the property. All four of the Tappendorf children were involved in bringing the building back to life. Aidan (13) and Tyler (8) moved rocks and bricks, picked up trash, and loaded supplies. Brianna (14) attended decorating sessions and meetings, then later trained as a barista. Ella (9) offered a helping hand by wiping tables and setting up displays.
“This place was built over 120 years ago,” said Curt. “It was important for us to preserve this landmark while making the conversion to a café. Now, seeing customers walk through the doors and appreciate the special touches we made has brought our vision to life.”

Schoolhouse 7 Café opened to the public on August 22, 2019. Since then, its homemade family recipes and fresh, locally roasted coffee have been embraced by the community. The café includes a playroom for kids, a “treehouse deck,” a drive-thru for coffee on the go, a private conference room, and a variety of seating options to meet your needs.

“Since we’ve opened, the support from the community has been unbelievable,” said Sarah. “We love hearing people tell us how thankful they are that we kept this piece of history. It would have been easier and less expensive to tear down the building, but with the amount of history that lived inside these walls, it was important for us to preserve this treasured landmark.”

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