The Fascinating True Story About This ‘Abandoned’ Idaho School House
A few weeks ago, we stumbled across a “short” on YouTube about an “Abandoned School Found in Idaho.” One of the captions read “the school closed due to well contamination and is sitting vacant.” The video was uploaded in late December 2022, so naturally, we were curious about the school’s history.
At first glance, it reminded us of the Huston School that you may have passed on the way to do some wine tasting on the Sunnyslope. Last fall, we shared the inspirational story of how one Idaho family saved and refurbished the historic school into their family home. That school had closed in the 1970s, was converted into apartments in the 1980s and caught fire in the early 1990s. As you can imagine, the renovation project was a huge undertaking. If you want to read more about that school, you can read that article HERE.
After doing a little digging, we found out that the mysterious, abandoned schoolhouse on YouTube is actually on the outskirts of Kuna and is even older than the Huston School! Despite what the YouTube short says, the school is NOT currently sitting vacant anymore and hasn’t been for some time. (To the YouTube user’s credit, the video description does mention that it had been purchased despite leading people to believe it was empty in the video’s captions.)
So, which school was it? Who does it belong to now? Thanks to the magic of the internet, we were able to piece the story together.
Have You Ever Heard of Mora, Idaho?
Chances are you’ve heard of Kuna-Mora Rd, but Mora was more than just a street name. It was a small town in Ada County that no longer exists. According to a post on Ada County’s website, the town of Mora was located on a trail leading to Silver City, approximately 54 miles from present-day Kuna. There was a railroad stop there which attracted families to settle in the area as early as 1907. It’s unclear what Mora’s biggest population was, but by 1910 there were people living there to support a school house and that’s when Mora School, the school we found on YouTube opened.
It cost the community $2,900 to build. If you adjust that number for inflation, that would be more than $91,300 today. RuralX, the user who uploaded the video, was correct in saying the schoolhouse closed in the late-1950s due to well contamination.
A Yard Full of Treasures
In the mid-60s, a man by the name of Clarence “Slim” Haken bought the old school. Ada County’s website claims he paid $2,200 for it. By today’s standards, that would be the equivalent of $20,314. A website called “Old Cars Weekly” claims he traded his Boise home, a boat and 1940 Cadillac limo for what was left of Mora…including the school house.
However it really played out, Slim and his yard became somewhat of a local legend. Slim loved everything about cars and fixing them. He would fix cars, sell cars, sell parts and share stories about all the cars he’d collected right there in the front yard. If you dig through the many Boise area history groups on Facebook, you’ll find dozens of people sharing fond memories of the time they spent with Slim or the vehicles they bought from him.
Slim passed away at the age of 81 in 2011, but the cars in his yard live on in these Google Maps photos from 2009.
According to an archived article from the Kuna Melba News, Slim left behind everything from 1940s trucks and Studebakers to 1963 Cadillac De Villes and vintage milk delivery trucks. Over 300 of the cars in the yard were sold at auction in 2014, when Slim’s family decided to sell the property. The vintage cars that didn’t sell were scrapped.
Mora School Gets a New Owner
According to Redfin, the school was listed for $550,000 shortly after the car auction. The listing simply read:
“Former Kuna Mora School house building . Contains a few of the original chalkboards. There is a small living quarters on the lower lever with a bathroom and kitchen appliances. The property includes a septic tank, storage shed and two fireplaces.”
It didn’t sell. It looks like it may have been relisted in June 2015 for $150,000. We’re not sure if that was the final sale price, but 2015 is when Mora School became the property of Hristo Nedelcev and the old school couldn’t have found a better owner. According to another Kuna Melba News article, Nedelcev worked in construction after coming to the United States from Bulgaria as a refugee. His resume included work on Cactus Pete’s and restoring several historic houses in the Treasure Valley.
He was also good friends with Norma and Kenneth Blevins, two former Mora School students who were able to share wonderful memories about the school with him. They so badly wanted the history of the school where they met to be preserved and that’s EXACTLY what Nedelcev planned to do. In a 2018 interview with Idaho News 6, he talked about his plan to restore and care for the school that had long been a target for vandals for the rest of his life.
Before Norma passed in 2017, Nedelcev helped her host a class reunion at the school and has graciously shown other former students around his property.
It’s been five years since he did that interview with Idaho News 6, but public records indicate that he still owns the school and if you look at the most recent Google Maps image of it from 2021, it looks like Nedelcev’s done a lot of work on the yard and added some warm touches to the front stairs of the school his family now calls home.
So What About that YouTube Video?
Well, it turns out that “short” video was actually a series of highlights from a longer video RuralX shot of the school in 2015 BEFORE Nedelcev started his restoration work. It’s a good indication of just how much work the new owner had on his plate! We’ve pulled some screen shots from that video and old real estate photos to show you what the school looked like when it was abandoned. It was pretty haunting. We’re so glad that someone is going to love this school and give it the life it deserves!
This school is private property. Under no circumstances should you enter the property unless you've made arrangements with the owner.