Monday, June 6, 2016

Arthur Meighen Public School - A Sad Case of Architectural Euthanasia.

St Marys Collegiate Institute - 1884
Image Courtesy of the St. Marys Museum
It's official, in April the Town of St Marys granted a demolition permit to the owners of the old Arthur Meighen Public School - a sad case of architectural euthanasia.

In 1875, a beautifully designed Italian Renaissance style school, then named St Marys Collegiate Institute, was erected at the top of Water Street North, Unfortunately, through no fault of its own, this gem did not age gracefully. The sad reality is that the school's slow and painful death started many decades ago, with people in positions of authority having no vision, and no appreciation of its historic and architectural worth. One doesn't need to be a heritage conservationist, a historian or an architect to recognize the value of this building when first built. Aside from its obvious beauty, the fact that one of Canada's prime ministers sat at its desks should be reason enough. Wasn't this a place of knowledge after all? Where were its advocates when the destruction started and the first of its many abysmal additions took form? Each like tumorous growths defacing and deforming the once elegant building into a grotesque lump of bricks, it attracts no sympathy. The final insults now come through acts of vandalism committed by clueless, aimless, aggressive teens. But then, why would they care about this school when generations before them did not? Children learn by example.

Past the point of saving, the school will soon be put out of its misery. Let's make sure that what replaces it isn't akin to Frankenstein's monster.

Arthur Meighen Public School - 2012
South side of the Arthur Meighen Public School - 2016
The South side of the school where one of the gables with its oeil-de-boeuf window is still visible.
Note the huge spruces, very likely two of the same ones seen as young trees in the 1884 shot.

As Scott Sidler of the The Craftsman Blog said so well in his post on Practical Preservation
"Apathy Kills".


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