poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘repurpose

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

sacred spaces #2

with 2 comments

One of the repurposed churches I have encountered is the church where my great-grandmother and great-grandfather were married on July 24 in 1886 in Laramie, Wyoming.  The church was the First Methodist Episcopal Church on Second Street in Laramie.

The church building, constructed in 1860, still stands at 152 North Second Street, but when my great-grandparents were married there, it stood at a location across the street from its present location.  When it was abandoned as a church, it was rolled across the street on logs, where today it is the oldest church building in Laramie.

When we visited Laramie in 2002, we did not find the church immediately because it did not look like a church.  When it was rolled across the street, the back of the church faced the street…

A look at the rear of the building shows what the face of the church would have looked like in its previous location…

The church has been repurposed and today is used by a distance-training business.   Inside the church, I could see the windows overlooking the spot where once my great-grandparents stood to say their vows…

Have you gone on a journey to discover the people in your family history?  Have you stood where their feet once stood?

Written by jane tims

September 15, 2011 at 7:02 am

sacred spaces

with 7 comments

Abandoned churches are a particularly poignant reminder of how ephemeral our human spaces can be.  In most cases, churches are abandoned for reasons of practicality – the maintenance costs are too high and refurbishing costs exceed starting over. 

I think about the people who originally planned and built the church.  They needed a place to meet and worship.  They probably had a hard time pulling together the resources.  There would have been a first Sunday service in the new church, perhaps a celebration afterwards with a meal and speeches.

It was probably a heart-wrenching decision to abandon the church.  So many baptisms, weddings and funerals.  So many personal experiences of being near to God.  So many forgotten moments of amusing bored children, nodding-off during sermons, singing off-key, and greeting friends and neighbours.

Some older churches are maintained because of their heritage value, and used occasionally for special services…

Some churches are sold and repurposed, into office space, or even homes…

Some churches are abandoned entirely, left as reminders of the landscape of the past…

Although it is vacant, this old church has someone to care for it, evidenced by the mowed lawn.




between ruby glass

and hard wood floor

a slide of light and three


extinguished candles

smoke lifts from smoulder

each mote a particle


of spectral light, mosaic

shard, image

reassembled in three



shepherd, hawthorn



©  Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

September 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Posted in sacred spaces

Tagged with , ,

%d bloggers like this: