poetry and prose about place

early schooling – the fate of older buildings

with 10 comments

Since our first drive to the Grand Lake area to find old schools in the landscape, we have kept an eye out for others. I am realising these buildings have met one of three fates:

  • demolition – lost forever to the landscape
  • deterioration – left to decay and eventual collapse
  • re-purposing – restoration and maintenance for use as camps, sheds or community use


For example, the Bunker Hill School in Rusagonis, New Brunswick has been well maintained and is used as a meeting place in the community. The old school has been recently painted and has a wheel-chair ramp.


Bunker Hill School Rusagonis Station

Bunker Hill School, Rusagonis Station, Sunbury County, New Brunswick


The conservation of older buildings in the landscape is problematic. They have historical value, create community character, and serve as a reminder of the past. On the other hand, for derelict buildings without purpose, liability soon exceeds value. We are at a time in our history when the buildings associated with growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are succumbing to the vagaries of time. Older designs, although often sturdy, are not energy-efficient and don’t always fit our modern ideas of efficiency and convenience, or our 21st century need for parking areas, central heating, and convenient washrooms. As a result many older buildings, including churches, schools, halls and stores are lost from the landscape.


Mill Road School, Gagetown 2

old school at Mill Road, near Gagetown, Queens County, New Brunswick (Verified as Lawfield School, Gagetown #1)


Do you have older school buildings in your community and what has been/will be their fate?


Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 6, 2016 at 7:00 am

10 Responses

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  1. Some of one-room school houses in Pennsylvania have been converted into small homes. Typically a small addition is added onto the building, and the school itself is divided into a couple (not very large) rooms.

    Liked by 1 person


    May 7, 2016 at 8:22 pm

  2. I started a comment and now I don’t know where it went – crazy, right? If I comment twice, my apologies. On one of our travels, Bruce and I came upon this deserted old two-story school in the middle of this perfectly landscaped lawn. Bruce was busy taking photos while I walked up to the building. The most stunning sound was coming from the inside – cooing and wing flapping. The entire building must have been chalk full of pigeons. I just stood there and listened in amazement. I’ve tried to attach a photo of this building. I hope it works. Well, at least a link to the photo. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person


    May 6, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    • Hi Fran. I have often commented and my comment will vanish into air. Your experience with the old school is so cool. Thanks for the photo – what an architecture! There is a big church in Ottawa I visit and it startles with pigeons fluttering across the high ceilings! My project will focus on the school in the landscape. I have found quite a number so far, but so many are in poor shape. Jane

      Liked by 1 person

      jane tims

      May 7, 2016 at 6:00 pm

  3. A treasure trove of thought and knowledge, as usual. I remember walking round the country side when I lived in England and Wales and seeing the old Roman ruins: wells and footpaths. roads and bridges. So little survives, so much is lost, so many stories to be told: thank you for telling us some of them, Jane.

    Liked by 1 person


    May 6, 2016 at 9:41 am

    • Hi Roger. I think that is one value of writers. They record the existence of older buildings and recall some part of their role in the landscape … how these spaces made us feel …


      jane tims

      May 6, 2016 at 5:01 pm

  4. There has been in my community some disagreement on whether to preserve old buildings/residences or use the land to benefit the whole community. Letters to the editor etc.
    I’m really not of the community although have lived here 20 years after retirement. (how time flies)
    If private funds are to be used, I would agree with preserving. But when public funds are needed ….. well I’d rather they fix up the bumpy streets.

    Liked by 1 person


    May 6, 2016 at 7:43 am

    • Hi. It’s funny how long you have to live in a place before you can ‘claim it’. We have been here36 years and I still feel a bit new. As for older buildings, choices are always hard. In New Brunswick we have protection in place for important historical buildings but preservation funds usually come from private sources or fund raising.

      Liked by 1 person

      jane tims

      May 6, 2016 at 8:59 am

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