Historic schoolhouse transformed into genealogy museum 0
The Walter Kidd schoolhouse has been resurrected and relocated next to the Highland Grove community centre. Under the direction of the Schoolhouse Historical Society, the renovated building will be primarily used as a geneology library with a grand opening scheduled to take place on July 18.
It's a project that has been 10 years in the making.
On July 18, the historic Walter Kidd Schoolhouse will be reopened as a genealogy museum thanks to the hard work and commitment of a community dedicated to seeing the project through.
The project has primarily been the work of the schoolhouse historical society who raised much-needed funds, including a $15,000 Trillium Foundation grant and community fundraisers.
"Most of the work on the schoolhouse has been the result of various fundraisers and events we held over the years," said Michele Smith, secretary of the Schoolhouse Historical Society, "including turkey suppers and lunches and a lot of work. When our treasurer added it up, between 1999 and 2006 we raised close to $20,000."
Located at the Highland Grove Community Centre, the schoolhouse was originally located on Dyno Road, before being moved to Highway 28 in Wilberforce.
"We approached the township and requested that the building be moved up here and resurrected as a museum," said Smith.
Built by a man named Walter Kidd, the original schoolhouse was constructed around the year 1890. Although the details of its history are unclear, according to Smith the building was bought by a hunt camp, which used it for a long time before the schoolhouse was bought by the township in the 1970s.
Upon relocating it to Highland Grove, the historical landmark was in need of some tender loving care.
"We had to do some extensive renovations," said Smith. "After we moved it we found that a lot of the logs were rotten and had to be replaced. We also replaced the windows."
"We have volunteers that have done hours and hours of chinking," said committee chair Jane Rinne, which refers to the process of filling the spaces in between the logs with cement.
The schoolhouse also features original blackboards from the Tory Hill school, discovered by Ken Noble and donated to the museum by the municipality.
Once it is reopened to the public the building will serve as more than a replica of a historic schoolhouse.
"Because we don't have very much space we're going to use the building primarily as a genealogy resource centre," said Smith. "We have already compiled some information and plan to do more once we have the addition of a computer. At this point it's primarily focused on the Cardiff township, with a bit on the surrounding townships."
"It's an interest from most people to look back on the old settling families from around here," said Carol Rowley, director of the society.
The museum will also serve as an information centre for the community and those passing through.
"I think it's wonderful that the schoolhouse is going to find a purpose and has been restored," said Suzanne Partridge, councillor of Ward 2 in Highlands East. "It's great to have the community involvement."
"One of the things that excites me about being on council is that you can help facilitate community projects like this. It's very exciting."
The historical society is currently seeking volunteers to help run the museum once it is open.
"The plan is to have it open at least four days a week," said Smith.
To celebrate the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours the community has invested into the building, the museum will be celebrating a grand opening on July 18. The event will include a barbecue, genealogical display, pony rides and live music.