Months after a break-in by vandals, spray paint still covers the walls and hardwood floor at the St. Croix Vocational Centre Thrift Store.  

In October, a group of teens trashed the place, smashing items intended for sale and a TV used by the 38 adults with intellectual disabilities who help run the business.

What's worse is that the space has national historic significance.

It's believed the original hardwood floor was the site of the first basketball game ever played in Canada.

St Croix Vocational Thrift Store

The thrift store employs 38 adults with intellectual disabilities, according to manager Tammy Parks.

According to the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, basketball was introduced in 1892 in St. Stephen by Lyman Archibald, a student of Canadian-born basketball inventor James Naismith.

"Most of the damage was done to the basketball court room," said manager Tammy Parks. "Especially all of the beautiful mahogany doors and things that we have up there."

The teens were caught and ordered to clean up the mess.

But Parks said it's been difficult to get everyone together to do it, and there are concerns the cleanup attempt could cause more damage.

"It has not been cleaned up yet," she said.


Spray paint is difficult to remove, Parks says, and there are concerns the cleanup could accidentally cause more damage if done improperly. (Tammy Parks)

Plans ruined

Before October, there had been talk of cleaning up the space and opening it to tourists.

The plans have since stalled "because of the damage it has been done," Parks  saod.

'It's tucked away quietly in a little corner of New Brunswick, upstairs but it's devastating to see.'

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The not-for-profit needs to raise enough money to properly repair the damage and also take care of other, more pressing needs.

"We work on a very tight budget," she said. "And we're trying to raise money to buy a new van for our clients. We are driving a 2003 cargo van. We need it to get our clients back and forth where they need to go. 

"It's going to be robbing Peter to pay Paul to get the money, basically."

'Devastating to see'

When and if the cleanup happens, "the basketball people and ourselves would be willing to revisit" the possibility of opening the space as a tourist attraction, she said.

But for now, the vandalized space has been an unfortunate case of out of sight, out of mind.

"It's tucked away quietly in a little corner of New Brunswick, upstairs," she said.

"But it's devastating to see."

With files from Information Morning Saint John