Ann Marie Shafner and Tom Tiley Honored with 17th Spirit of Union Award

Not many people can say they live in a home that’s more than 150 years old ... let alone a home that was once the first brick schoolhouse in the Village of Union. Ann Marie Shafner and Tom Tiley can claim this distinction. Right around 1860, the structure was built just east of Main Street on the north side of Martindale Road. For years, this was where the young people of Union received their first formal schooling.

Fast-forward to year 2012 and this property at 100 E. Martindale Road has been honored with this year’s Spirit of Union Award. Ann Marie and Tom are the 17th recipients of the award, which recognizes exceptional efforts in outdoor beautification projects in our community.

Ann Marie bought the property in 2009 after deciding to return home to Union, the town where she had grown up. She went to grade school and high school in Union through the Northmont School System and then pursued a college degree leading to a career in social work. Life brought her to Brookville (where she still works, at the Brookhaven Nursing Facility, as a Licensed Social Worker) but, after having lived in Brookville for a number of years, her hometown was calling. So was the unusual property that needed some tender-loving care.

She brought Tom with her. Tom, also reared in Union, has traveled the world as part of the U.S. Air Force and has lived in such faraway places as Guam, Hawaii and Alaska. The couple is glad to “boomerang” back to Union.

“We love it here,” Ann Marie said. “It is the perfect place to live.”

She helped to put herself through college by bussing tables at The Toll House on Main Street. That restaurant-tavern and many other stops along the way are within strolling distance of her home.

“Yet,” she said, “it’s like living in the Smoky Mountains.”

Indeed, you’d never know you’re a stone’s throw from Main Street. The property on Martindale enjoys hilly, gauzy views of the land as it ambles toward the Stillwater River.

Whoever owned the property at one time apparently did a lot of work on it, creating ponds, a creekbed and walkways. The ponds, stone-lined, are on the west side of the property’s double-wide lot. Leafy trees and evergreens shade the yard, giving it a peaceful, park-like setting. Ann Marie’s perennials, “split” from plants from her previous home in Brookville, have taken root and are in full bloom.

“I like hearty plants that you can just throw in the ground and they grow,” she said with a laugh.

Tom puts in a vegetable garden each year, and Ann Marie cans the produce in the fall. A new addition this year is a Mastiff puppy named Samson who is already 50 pounds and bounding around the property. (Mastiffs can grow to, well, massive proportions!)

“I am so thankful to my family and friends who helped me work on ‘Marty’” - that’s Ann Marie’s nickname for the home. “Also, our neighbors have been so welcoming and kind. The City of Union is very dear to both Tom and me, and we are so blessed to have moved back home after having lived away for many years.”

Congratulations, Ann Marie, Tom and Samson, on an award well-deserved! To see more pictures of the property as it is now, plus an old news clip about the schoolhouse and an aerial photo provided by the Randolph Township Historical Society, please go here: Spirit-of-Union-2012-more-images.pdf.