Contributed by the Arrow Lakes Historical Society
Starting its career as a school, the Centennial Building has gone through various incarnations, and soon will be getting a lift, literally, with the help of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society (ALHS).
The building was built in 1912 to house the local students up to grade 8, and had 45 students enrolled in its first year.
“The school was equipped with single-hinged seat desks and large blackboards,” Rosemarie Parent wrote in a November issue of BC Archives Week, “Inside steps led down to a hall in the basement, which separated girls’ and boys’ areas for washrooms and play space in times of inclement weather.”
Local historian Milton Parent, who was a student at the school, will soon see the archives he and his wife and fellow historian Rosemarie have worked so hard to preserve become part of the Centennial Building as part of a new addition.
Back in the days of being a schoolhouse, the building was filled with kids and their shenanigans, as Milton recalls:
“When it came to pranks the big school in Nakusp experienced its share. One that was quite notable happened in 1937 on the night of Halloween. Hendrick Aalten, the janitor, felt the brunt of the event as the story goes.
Some boys had entered the school at night from the back and released a whole flock of chickens. The next morning when Hendrick arrived, greeted by all the cackling, he was somewhat amused. Now Henry was a Hollander and spoke in broken English. He said, “Ven I saw all de chickens I laughed and I laughed mit til I saw all de chicken s–t, den I was mad.”
Much more angry was Len Truscott, the principal. He threatened to resign, but after the board assured him all would be cleaned up and put in pristine condition Len agreed to carry on as usual.”
The Centennial building changed from school to a combination Village Office and public library before it became the Nakusp Library as we know it now. Thanks to the dedication of many local people, renovations to the building created the comfortable and inviting environment that now is home to the library and the museum.
The ALHS has started the next phase of the Centennial Building’s existence, with construction for a two-storey addition already underway. The plans also include an elevator, a real lift for the building, which will make the library and archives on the top floor accessible to everyone.
“This makes it possible for the elderly to volunteer at the Library or the Archives if they wish to do so,” wrote Rosemarie Parent in a recent press release about the ALHS’s “Raise the Roof” campaign.
The donation campaign will help provide the balance needed for the renovation’s completion. Anyone donating between $100 and $500 will have their name placed on the ‘Raise the Roof’ plaque.
“When the addition is completed, the Archive office and archive material will be in a safe place owned by the Village,” wrote Rosemarie, “The office will be one big room that we will be able to hold meetings, show movies, DVDs and look at maps more easily.”
The ALHS are still waiting to hear from more grants as well for the addition, but have proceeded and completed the footings, cement walls and have moved the water and sewer lines. Now that winter has truly arrived, the project will be on hold until better weather in the spring, and the ALHS hope is to have the building completed by the fall of 2012.