New life for the Mindemoya old school
A century-old building in Mindemoya on Manitoulin Island, will soon get new life due to the hard work and effort of motivated residents.
The not-for-profit 'Friends of the Mindemoya Old School' (FOMOS) said Thursday that it will be signing a lease for the century-old property with the hopes of giving it new life.
"Well, we're really, really excited because last week the council for the municipality approved the 21-year-lease," said group member Allison McAllister.
The building, in the centre of town, has served as a focal point for generations. It was used as classroom space until roughly the late sixties before it was turned into offices.
It sat vacant for the last few years, and it wasn't until some people contemplated tearing it down. The group was formed in hopes of saving it.
It plans to turn it into artisan space, and a place where people can sell their wares in hopes of drawing more tourists to the island.
McAllister said community support has been nothing shy of amazing.
"We did end up with quite a large number of members, about 300, and they're all very enthusiastic about the project. We have a population density of
about 2000, and our support comes from community members who live here full-time," she said.
Supporters include Karen McKenzie, a Mindemoya woman who is also a former student of the school.
"It's just thrilling, I was born and raised here in Mindemoya, lived just up the street. I went to school here in grades one to six, my mom went here to high school, and it just means so much to me that we have saved the school," she said.
There’s no timeline on when they'll be able to complete the necessary work. And, McAllister said it could be up to three years.
The group plans on hiring an architect to help them with the changes that need to be made to the structure.
When it comes to appeal, McKenzie said it's the history.
"Actually, the work has just begun. We've saved the building, and now we have to recreate it, and we're hoping with the news that we have a lease that many people will step forward and say 'okay you've got the lease, let me help," she said.
FOMOS will solicit gifts in kind to help with the renovations while keeping costs low.