MSA Museum Society is hoping to school Abbotsford residents, and especially young students, about some exciting turn of the century history.
David Sahlstrom, MSA director of development, said Abbotsford School District has been asked to donate the old one-room South Poplar schoolhouse at the corner of Huntingdon and Gladwin roads to the heritage organization.
The museum society wants to relocate the vintage schoolhouse to its Trethewey House site on Ware Street by Mill Lake and renovate it to become a cornerstone for its future Discovery Village project.
"It will be an incredibly valuable asset to the community," said Sahlstrom, adding the building is one of the last remaining one-room school houses relatively intact in Abbotsford.
"Kids will learn about the heritage and history of the area, and see and participate in the school as it would have been in the 1930s in rural Abbotsford," he said.
Salhstrom said a lot of people are surprised to learn that Abbotsford still has an old-fashioned schoolhouse.
But a number of people, especially some former students, have been looking to restore the white clapboard and blue-roofed structure for years, he said.
"It's the only single-room schoolhouse close to its original construction," said Salhstrom.
"Most others have been added to or incorporated into larger structures.
When the school was first built in 1933, it had no electricity or running water and students made use of an outhouse.
"There were no roads in the area. Students had to get to school using trails through surrounding farmers' fields," said Salhstrom.
The district has only intermittently used the building for students or storage since the more modern South Poplar School was built in the 1950s, he said.
However, the building is in good shape and in relatively untouched aside from the installation of a tin roof and newer windows.
If the building is moved to the museum society's Mill Lake site, the group plans to restore the schoolhouse as closely as possible to its original state.
"We'll put in new windows that are more historically accurate . . . and the roof will be replaced with original cedar shakes," said Salhstrom.
The greatest costs will involve taking the structure off its basement foundation and moving along the roadways to Mill Lake, he said.
"That will be a considerable expense," said Salhstrom, adding the society has applied for federal grants and launched a fundraising campaign.
The museum society hopes to see the building on site by the spring.
"It's a project we're really excited about and looking for help from anyone interested in partnering with us," said Salhstrom.
"We have faith in the community that we'll see the support we need."
- The Abbotsford board of education has placed the donation of the South Poplar schoolhouse on the agenda for discussion at its board meeting scheduled for Dec. 11. Written submissions from community members are requested by Nov. 29. Submissions can be made via e-mail to email@example.com.
Delegations wishing to address the board about the schoolhouse can register with Denise Byle at 604-852-2366 ext. 1241 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org