Nova Scotia

Century-old Glace Bay building saved by little service club

The 16-member Glace Bay Y's Men's and Women's Club has stepped in to keep the former Glace Bay High School building as a working part of the community's built heritage.

Former home to high school acquired by Y's Men's and Women's Club for $1

Jeff Knarr gives a tour of the former school building in Glace Bay. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

A small service club in Glace Bay has stepped in to make sure a century-old school building in the Cape Breton community won't face the wrecking ball.

The town's 16-member Y's Men's and Women's Club has taken possession of the former Morrison Junior High, which was originally Glace Bay High when the building opened in 1914.

Morrison Junior High was closed in 2010 and the building was most recently occupied by the International Centre for English Academic Preparation. It has now handed over ownership for the princely sum of $1.

Y's Men's president Jeff Knarr said the club wants to help the town retain its built heritage.

"We currently own the bowling alley, the former Knox Hall. We love that we could keep that in the community," he said. "Once we heard that the international school was moving out, we didn't want to see this building get torn down."

Some of the desks remain in the former school. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

While part of the building dates back to the early part of the last century, a more modern section was added 60 years ago.

Artifacts from the building's early days can still be found in the basement, said Knarr, including science lab equipment and old wooden desks.

The oldest part of the basement was once used as a firing range, and one of the walls still shows the gouges where ammunition struck home.

The building is solid and was well maintained, Knarr said, and the club has big plans for its future use.

"The main building itself, the main floor, we're trying to get some office space to recoup some of the costs; it's very expensive to heat," he said.

The Y's Men's and Women's Club has lots of plans for the site. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

The school's gym is already in demand.

"The possibilities are endless," said Knarr. "We can host larger events, stuff like that, wedding receptions, dances.

"The rooms themselves are good for conference rooms, offices, even meeting rooms for local community clubs."

The gym will also become a laser-tag arena and at least one local sports team has also shown an interest in the space.

"We feel it's amazing to keep a building like this in the community," Knarr said. "You know, it was a large undertaking in the beginning.

"We knew that there would be a lot of start-up expense that we're covering ourselves but we're trying to recoup some of the money, currently.

"A lot of people are very encouraging and love the idea that we're willing to save such an old building."

With files from Gary Mansfield