A Diamond in the Rough​...


The Cornell School began as a single room schoolhouse in the early 20th century, serving the communities of Cornell and Agoura. Students arrived on foot, bicycle, and by horse along the main thoroughfare of Mulholland Highway.

Two things happened in the 1940’s that impacted the future of Cornell School and the other three local single room schoolhouses. First, when the Baby Boom began to hit the area, the small schools simply could not handle the overflow of students. Next, Las Virgenes Union Elementary District was formed in 1947 and the four single room schoolhouses were combined into one larger school. It may have marked the end of an era, but Cornell School lived on.

Cornell School was then converted into a residence where owners Millie and Kim Coffin lived for the next 50 years. During that time the school saw many changes. The hardwood floors were covered with linoleum, every layer representing the fashion of the decade. Faux wood paneling concealed rotting plaster walls, and some areas of the house boasted paint a dozen colors thick. Electricity and plumbing were introduced, but still primitive by today’s standards.

When the Cornell School was put on the market in 1998, it was viewed by most as beyond all repair. And then Eric and Mary came along…
Cornell Schoolhouse students in 1935 (above) 
and 1938 (below)

Mary & Eric, Headmasters 
Cornell School Ranch

The Owners

Eric and Mary were just dating when they came across the dilapidated old schoolhouse. Everyone who had looked at it only had interest in tearing it down, but from the moment they laid eyes upon it, Eric and Mary believed it was absolutely perfect. ​​​
          "We only saw what it could be, not what it was. That made it easier to overlook the AstroTurf in the living room, the decades of linoleum, the lack of modern plumbing and electricity… not to mention the heavy stench of age and mildew. We figured it was nothing that a fresh coat of paint wouldn’t fix... Plus it was in our price range."​​
Moving forward with nothing but a good feeling about things, Mary and Eric purchased the place together in 1999. As they set out to breathe life back into the schoolhouse, some of their friends admit now that they thought the two were crazy. But as fortune would have it, Eric and Mary were not wrong about the schoolhouse… or each other. The couple married at the turn of the century, and has made Cornell School Ranch their home of the last 20 years.​
​​In case life ever threatened to grow dull, Eric and Mary became parents of triplets in the summer of 2008. Mary admits "Mother of Multiples' is now her most hard-earned title on the resume, and credits her early survival on her previous warrior training. Before triplets, Eric and Mary were avid travellers, adventurists, and involved in a variety of athletic endeavors. Nowadays, both Eric and Mary still savor the great outdoors, have their eye on the next big project, but have also been caught napping in random parking lots.​​​

For more information about Eric and Mary
​please click here.