Paint­ing the fu­ture red

Brigus cou­ple trans­form­ing for­mer school into mer­can­tile prop­erty

The Compass - - Editorial - BY BAR­BARA DEAN-SIM­MONS

It’s hard to miss the work Jim Power has put into his Brigus project.

The large build­ing, which opened as a school in 1964, is turn­ing from a shade of pale white to a bril­liant hue of red.

“The weather didn’t help,” he laughed, ref­er­enc­ing the cold and wet weeks of June.

Over the win­ter, Power re­placed most of the win­dows in the build­ing and cleaned up the in­side.

He and his wife, El­iz­a­beth, bought the prop­erty last year from the lo­cal Catholic parish.

They’re trans­form­ing the old, worn build­ing for a brand new pur­pose.

The old class­rooms on the sec­ond floor will become bou­tique stores. Three of them, in­clud­ing an an­tique store and an art store, will open later this sum­mer.

Even­tu­ally, the spa­cious main floor of the build­ing will be avail­able for large gath­er­ings, like wed­dings.

For Power, there’s a strong sense of déjà vu as he wan­ders through the space.

He spent his school days in th­ese rooms and hall­ways.

His chil­dren also got their early ed­u­ca­tion here.

The rooms are pretty much the same as they were left when the school closed in the early 1990s. Fol­low­ing the abol­ish­ment of de­nom­i­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion in this prov­ince, stu­dents from this school were bussed out of the com­mu­nity to an­other school.

The chalk­boards are still in place, old desks are stacked in an empty room, and cup­boards that once held sup­plies for the teacher are still at­tached to the wall.

The Pow­ers plan to leave a lot of the school mem­o­ra­bilia — in­clud­ing the green chalk­boards— in place.

For now, Power’s fo­cus is to fin­ish the out­side paint­ing and trans­form four class­rooms into re­tail space.

The rest will be com­pleted over the next year or so.

“It was a big thing to take on,” Power says of this project. “But we’ve been plug­ging away at it all win­ter, ev­ery day.”

Pow­ers be­lieve there’s a need for more bou­tique-style stores in the town to en­cour­age vis­i­tors to stop and shop.

“A lot of tourists and bus tours come through here ev­ery day, see the his­toric sites and then leave again,” Power told the Com­pass.

BAR­BARA DEAN-SIM­MONS PHOTO

Jim Power is nearly fin­ished adding a bright red coat of paint to the old school in Brigus.

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