Saturday, June 21, 2008

Last one out turns off the light

Lighting the way no longer
London, ON, June 2008 [Click to enlarge]

We said goodbye to our kids' school yesterday. The building - built in 1920 as a three-room schoolhouse, then turned into a library and eventually back into a school - has been sold to the nearby university that plans to renovate it and continue to use it for classes. Construction on a new facility for the munchkins is nearing completion on the community centre campus a few blocks away. Yesterday was the last day of class in the old facility.

It's an exciting time for everyone, as it represents a huge turning point in the history of this very special little school. But I found myself feeling a little sad as I stood beside the age-worn brick and thought about how it'll never again resonate with the screams of kids.

This building needed to go. Like an old car that spends more time in the shop than on the road, maintenance was draining the budget. The gym had a pole in the middle of it. Classrooms lacked a lot of the basic amenities today's kids need. Charm could only take it so far.

Yet as much as life has to go on, I wanted to slow it down for a bit with my camera. I wanted to remember what it felt like to come to a strange city and find a place to lay down roots, a place where were were able to connect with total strangers and become part of their lives and the community at large. This old, run-down building was where it started for us and for so many others, and despite its lack of air conditioning and general sense of antique discomfort, we'll miss the place.

Your turn: An old building that was more than the sum of its parts. Please discuss.

If you're just joining us: This photo continues this week's Thematic Photographic theme: glass. Click here to jump in if you haven't yet had the chance. Long story short: Leave a link to your own glass-themed image in a comment and see what everyone else comes up with, too. It'll be fun!


... Paige said...

They, the school district, closed the High School I went too. They are combining the students with the rival school that has been operating at half capacity too.
Very sad

swilek said...

The church where I started going as a baby was torn down and in its place two high rise senior apartments. We built a new church in a different part of town, but I still miss the old building. My friends and I still talk about the good old days in that creaky old building! ... First loves, Pioneer Clubs, crazy youth group events, many banquets attended, family weddings, family funerals, baptisms, conferences, friendships formed for life, teaching Sunday School, faithful prayers of the seniors, faith journey established....One memory that stands out is the day this couple brought their brand new adopted baby daughter to church. I remember exactly where I was the balcony with the other high school students. I vividly remember how I felt when I saw this precious baby in the arms of her new parents! This 'baby' is now a young adult and every time I see her at church, I always remember her grand welcome to our world! I miss that old building but am grateful I can still access that photo file in my brain!

Canadian Mark said...

In the Sault, at around the turn of the century (1900) we had one central high school, which later became a government building when three highschools were built in the 70's.

It's an amazing building with masonry techniques that just aren't used anymore, with turrets and artsy looking eaves and what-not.

Anyway, the building has undergone renovation after renovation and is completely up to code, and with the drop in population the Sault has seen the past few years, I'm told this building will once again be a central high school. So it's all coming around full circle... sort of.

Kate said...

Hi, Carmi.
Long time no write, thanks for the e-mail.

When I got the new Google Earth, I went looking for the school I attended when my family used to live in Rochester, NY. Unfortunately, no. 49 school no longer exists. I was in fourth grade and don't remember it well, except for my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson, who insisted that her hair was not gray but "silver," and who taught us not only how to add and subtract and write, but also how to fill out a check and a tax form. That was quite a year.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago ('78-'83) I taught in the basement of the building you are talking about Carmy...for Jigsaw Dalcroze Eurhythmics. We used two of the rooms and an office and it wasn't perfect but it was home and felt like family. Across the hall was a Montessori school and upstairs was the Cross-Cultural Learning Center. We were all friendly and since my family and I had just arrived to live in London from S.A. I appreciated all that first bonding. Later, the Library moved in upstairs and then we used it as a Religious School on week-ends for some years. So many memories.....We have videos and photos taken in the building and will treasure them even more now.
The move to the new school is very positive though so make way for progress!

craziequeen said...

All three of my schools have been closed down. The infant (kindergarten) school was knocked down to build old people's housing and my junior school was replaced with regular housing. My senior school was sold to a local technical college and is part of their new campus.

I would like to be like you and have good memories of the place school held in your lives - but I don't regret losing my schools. I was miserable in school and have never looked back.


Mojo said...

My high school was originally completed in 1929, but has been in a perpetual state of addition ever since. So I guess it really is more than the sum of its parts -- and they keep adding more parts!
But the building that came to mind for me was a small general store a town called Valle Crucis, NC. The town is one of those that's immensely popular with those who know about it, but that's a pretty small circle. The
Mast Store
(est. 1883), however, has gained a bit of noteriety by virtue of having the longest continuing operations of any general store in the country.