by Dave Preston
The outside of the Peachland Primary School hides well the story going on behind its walls.
While most of the building’s exterior, save the windows and some cladding at the bottom, looks fresh and new, inside just a skeleton remains.
“The building has been completely stripped out, down to the original 104-year-old studs,” said Rob Campbell, who has been supervising restoration efforts.
The studs, which have sat inside the old school building’s walls for more than a century, are massive, solid timbers of dimensional lumber that really do measure two inches by six inches.
Much of the work to date in the building has been about removing the old and unusable and the worrisome.
“All of the lath and plaster that contained a little bit of asbestos has all been removed,” said Campbell. “The building has been completely cleaned.”
Inside, both interior and exterior walls have been taken down to bare studs. Electrical wires are exposed, many hanging from the original ceiling. Demolition is basically done; now its time to build.
“The building is safe to occupy now and we go to the next phase, which is the start of interior redevelopment,” said Campbell.
Several years ago, Peachland council set aside $200,000 to go toward fixing up the building. Campbell said about half that amount remains today. The district was awarded a $50,000 grant from the federal government to make the building more accessible and the provincial government kicked in a grant worth $400,000.
In total, Campbell has about $550,000 to fix up the school building, plus some expected donations from interested companies.
An architect toured the building Thursday and another is expected Friday. Before any work can begin, an architect must lay out a plan for the interior, including locations to run electrical, plumbing and heating runs.
A structural engineer will be brought in to determine if walls need to be beefed up to meet today’s code. Then it’s work plan and budget time.
“The district wants a work plan and as close a budget as I can get,” said Campbell.
Those documents will be reviewed by the Primary School Implementation Committee before being forward to Peachland council.
“We’re going to try and make this thing look as exactly as it did back in 1908,” said Campbell.
Architectural features inside will be saved as much as possible, but there will be some changes to the school building.
Plans call for the front two classrooms to be mostly used as a new Visitor Information Centre. There will be a small chamber of commerce office in the front and a new board room that can be used by community groups that will seat about 30 people.
The wall between the front classrooms will be cut open so the two rooms become one.
In the back, one classroom will be exclusively for the home of the new Peachland Youth Centre, to be run by the Boys and Girls Club. The other classroom will be turned into a multi-use facility for various community groups.
The back classrooms jut out from the structure with a large gap in the middle. That gap will be filled in, according to Campbell, so that additional washrooms and an office and kitchen for the youth centre can be built.
Campbell said he expects it will take about nine months to restore the interior and make it ready for occupancy. With that timeline, the chamber of commerce, the Visitor Information Centre and the Boys and Girls Club should be moving in sometime in the spring of 2013.