For just a few years in the late 1920s, the children of Malabar, FL, attended class in their schoolhouse on Marie Street.
Then the Great Depression forced the school to close. Over the decades, the former schoolhouse has served as apartments, a woodworking shop, a mill, and most recently, a wedding venue.
Now the 8,000-square-foot building, zoned both residential and commercial, is on the market for $1.1 million.
“We fell in love with the building, and we thought we could live here,” says the listing agent and current owner, Joanne Murdoch. She and her husband, Tom, bought the property in 2012 and had big plans to renovate it and make it their home.
However, the demand for quirky event venues intervened.
“Everybody was coming out with these barn venues, and we thought this building would make a great wedding venue. So that’s the direction we went into for a number of years,” Murdoch says.
It took a few years to renovate the property to make it ready for happy couples. The schoolhouse on the Sunshine State’s Atlantic Coast was in sore need of updated infrastructure.
“It was industrial-looking when we got it,” Murdoch explains. “We had to redo all the electrical, the plumbing, the heating, the septic, all the safety stuff throughout, the landscaping, the lighting. It was a complete restoration.”
Rechristened as the Banyan Estate, thanks to the banyan tree on the grounds, the venue has held weddings and other events for the past few years.
The main level has a large pavilion room and a smaller hall—each with new windows and vintage chandeliers. There are also several bathrooms throughout the venue space.
Upstairs, the loft area provides a more intimate setting for smaller gatherings. This was the space where the Murdochs initially planned to live.
It has a full bathroom and plenty of room to configure and carve out bedrooms and other living spaces.
Somebody coming in to use the building as a residence will have to tweak it a bit, Murdoch says. But with the home’s major systems in place, the work that’s left will require an eye for design.
Right now, the only kitchen in the space is designed for commercial prep, so anyone wanting to live in the building full-time will want to add a cooking space.
“We always saw the upstairs part being the loft, and the other two spaces could be any kind of business you wanted,” Murdoch says.
Before deciding to turn the property into a wedding venue, she and her husband imagined a business making cheese in part of the space and setting up a dance studio in the rest.
The building sits on almost 2.5 acres and abuts 350 acres of environmentally preserved land that will never be developed.
Finding a property with this kind of zoning, great location, and fascinating backstory is a big win.
Murdoch says she imagines the perfect buyer as “somebody who loves historic buildings, who can appreciate a beautiful and large piece of property.”
The property is co-listed with JJ Tippins at Pastermack Real Estate.