140-year-old school getting new life on P.E.I.

The community of Victoria-by-the-Sea is giving new life to its historic former school by painstakingly converted it into office and rental space one nail, one board at a time. Work to transform the 140-year-old building has been underway for some time now.

Building in Victoria-by-the-Sea to be used as a community office and rental space

The 140-year-old former Victoria schoolhouse is being transformed into new space that will be used by the village and the community. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The community of Victoria-by-the-Sea is giving new life to its historic former school by painstakingly converting it into office and rental space one nail, one board at a time.

​The schoolhouse was opened in 1873 and served as a school for 100 years until it closed in 1973. Over the years, it's been used for kindergarten space and hosted countless community gatherings.

"It is almost a new building," Ben Smith said of the transformation. "We're really happy to kind of join the old and the new, and this building if it wasn't renovated, it would soon be gone too far, and so it's really great to see it preserved."

The inside of what was once a two-room schoolhouse has been completely gutted to make room for a new community gathering space. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Plans include converting the former two-room schoolhouse into one large room complete with hardwood floors.

There will be space for two offices, one for rent and one for the community.

The Victoria school dates back to 1873. It was used as a school until 1973. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Solar panels and a heat pump are also being installed to reduce energy costs.

"They used to have suppers quite often for the community, and if this wasn't fixed up, then the usage would be very limited," Smith said. "We have a  lot of public buildings here for the size of the village, and they all require maintenance and upkeep, so this one is kind of starting a new era being more self-sufficient."

The former schoolhouse will soon be home to the village's new office, as well as an office available for rent. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The project is part of almost $650,000 in federal funding to help the municipality carry out protective upgrades to the 90- metre-long seawall, create a pedestrian pathway to connect the popular waterfront with green-space and business areas, and develop recreational greenspace with visitor parking.

Brenda Boudreau, of the Victoria Historical Society, said she's pleased to see the former school is being repurposed.

She'd like to see space inside the building used to display local historical artifacts.

Brenda Boudreau of the Victoria Historical Society would like to see some local artifacts displayed in the new building. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"That would be our dream as a historical association that there could be a designated space to display the heritage of not only the school, but also of the village itself," she said.

"It's a heritage village, that's part of our charm and part of what attracts people to come here and step back in time, so the schoolhouse being 140-plus years old, would be an ideal place to have an interpretive display of the artifacts we have."

Victoria's 90-metre-long seawall will also be repaired as part of nearly $650,000 in federal funding announced last year to renovate the school and create green space in the community. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The community hopes to be able to move to move into its new space sometime in the next month or two, and have it available to rent by early spring.