please help save VPS1895

Frequently Asked Questions | email us

This site was dedicated to saving Vineland's original one room schoolhouse from demolition.

Who are the Friends of Vineland Public School 1895?

The Friends of Vineland Public School 1895 are an ad hoc volunteer Lincoln community group dedicated to saving Vineland's historically and architecturally significant 1895 1-room schoolhouse (VPS 1895) from demolition. Carla Mackie and Brett House are currently coordinators for the group.

How much support do the Friends currently have?

As of September 21, 2014, there are 732 facebook supporters and 421 supporters on the Change.org petition site. We will be beginning our paper petitions on October 4 at Pioneer day.

The population of Lincoln is approximately 22,500, and according to the 2011 census data, Vineland has a population of 2,834 (please keep in mind that ward/poll data does not fit exactly with the urban area boundaries and that the ward/poll data only takes into account the eligible voters 18 years old and older).

The Friends of Vineland Public School 1895 will be presenting the petitions at the first Corporate Priorities Meeting of the newly elected Town Council. We will be calling on the new Council to designate the 1895 1-room Vineland schoolhouse a Heritage Site and ask Council to work with the community to preserve and then restore the 1-room schoolhouse.

Why should the original schoolhouse be saved?

1) It's part of Vineland's identity. It will be 120 years old next year and some families have had 5 generations attend the school. It is the focal point of Victoria Avenue and can be considered part of the cultural space of the community. It is the last public building or marker of the 19th century community.

2) It's an architectural gem. It is an excellent example of 19th century rural Ontario school architecture. Its very distinctive bricks and terracotta reliefs were made at the Beamsville Brick and Terracotta Company.

3) It was built to last - The school house is structural sound - the walls are intact, the foundations are strong which attest to the skill of the highly competent craftsmen who built the school.

4) It is easy to detach from the current school (the later additions).

5) There are funding opportunities if the school is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

6) Heritage is good business. It is quite easy to notice that the most successful commercial and tourist areas are the ones that have preserved their historic assets. Do you prefer Niagara Falls or Niagara-on-the-lake? Jordan shows that heritage can generate substantial tax dollars and jobs. The original school house should be included as an asset in Vineland's new business improvement plan.

Can the original schoolhouse be Saved?

Yes, it is not too late. With enough community support (please sign our petitions), the Friends of VPS 1895 will be calling on the newly elected Mayor and Town Council to reverse its past decision and save the schoolhouse from demolition.

An individual, community or Town Council has the right and responsibility to designate the school under the Ontario Heritage Act. An email received on September 4, 2014 from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport* outlines the rights of a community and legal details of designation. *see blog section

Who is the owner of Vineland Public School?

We are...the original one room school house was built and paid for by the community, however, technically, the school is owned by the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN). The Province of Ontario only began funding the building of schools in 1943, and control of the school passed to the Lincoln County Board of Education in 1968 without any payment back the community.

Local contributions built VPS 1895, the DSBN should give VPS 1895 back to Lincoln. The DSBN's mandate is not heritage; it's education. The Friends of VPS1895 would like the Town of Lincoln to work with the DSBN to transfer the school's ownership back to the Town so that the original one room school house can be preserved. Any DSBN request that Lincoln 'buy' the schoolhouse is equivalent to being taxed twice for the same asset.

Why are DSBN's plans to incorporate some of the elements from the original school house into the new school not good enough?

1) The 'relocated' fašade will not been seen by the public from the street. Only students and parents attending the school will be able to see these features.

2) One of the reasons why the school is still standing is because of the high quality brick and mortar work. The school was constructed from 'Beamsville brick' by highly skilled tradesmen. If the school is taken down and the fašade 'reinstalled', the brick and mortar work will be compromised and will not be representative of the actual look of Beamsville brick. The architect's drawings mention the use of 'reclaimed' brick, but this does not mean that 'Beamsville' brick will be used in the 'relocated' facade.

3) The 'relocated' fašade will only be an interpretation of the original fašade (due to AODA accessibility requirements and budget constraints). The original facade will be completely destroyed.

4) The relocated parts will become disassociated with their past history and meaning. The parts will become equivalent to trophies or awards in a school's display case next to the principal's office.

5) and finally, demolishing the original schoolhouse to make room for 3 parking spots seems short-sighted..

Will saving the original school house delay or halt construction of the new Twenty Valley School?

No, saving the original school house will not halt the construction of the new school. Construction of the new Twenty Valley School is well under way. It is scheduled to open in September 2015. The current plans are to demolish the entire Vineland Public School, including the original school house when the new Twenty Valley School is complete. The original school house only takes up the space of 3 parking spots with in the new design. Demolishing the original schoolhouse will make room for 3 parking spots seems short-sighted.

How much will it cost to save and preserve the original one room school house?

The original school house is solid and structurally sound - the exterior and interior walls are intact, the foundation is strong, and all the services are active. If it wasn't, the DSBN would not allow kindergarten classes to be currently held in the school house.

When the other portions of the Vineland Public School are demolished, the corners of the roof on the east side of the building will need to be rebuilt and reroofed. If the services are disconnected due to its integration with other parts of the school, they will need to be reinstated. The school house is as big as a medium-sized house, approximately 1,500 square feet, and is located close to the road so the costs for reroofing and servicing, if required, should not be unreasonably high. Estimates from local renovation firms have been requested.

If VPS1895 is saved, what could it be used for?

Ideally, a classroom. The schoolhouse could be thought of as portable to the new school. It could continue as a kindergarten classroom, or a classroom for students with individual education plans (IEP) or a center for experimental learning (possibly with Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), similar to the program that was offered at the now-closed Maplegrove School).

If the DSBN is not interested in using the school house as a school, there are many other possibilities. For example, some of the historic schools in St. Catharines have been repurposed - Victoria School is now a women's shelter; Robertson School, a Folk Arts Center; Maplewood School, a Greek Community center, St. John's School, a school for English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Lincoln already has a schoolhouse museum in Jordan, so another school house museum is not needed. The schoolhouse could also be included as an asset in Vineland's new business improvement plan which is is now being reviewed. Not having a current purpose (only because it was never discussed), is not a reason for demolishing the building.

Are there any other funding opportunities for restoring or renovating the schoolhouse?

Yes, but the building must FIRST be designated a heritage site to qualify for funding. There are also more funding opportunities if the Friends of VPS1895 (or similar group) incorporate themselves as a registered non-profit organization and partner with the Town of Lincoln.

Examples of funding could include:

Canadian Heritage Federal Grants: the Legacy Fund provides funding for community capital projects up to $500,000 to mark 100th anniversary or greater, in increments of 25 years (we could be celebrating VPS's 125 anniversary in 2020; the Local Festivals grant provides funding to local groups for recurring festivals for eligible expenses up to $200,000 (ARTfest could possibly qualify).

Small grants include the Benjamin Moore Community Restoration Program and the Niagara Community Foundation with grants between $4,000 - $5000, and the Niagara Investment in Culture grant (this grant does not include capital, equipment or operating costs). Working with the John Howard Society on renovation projects would help at-risk members of the community build skills and encourage commitment and a sense of belonging and pride in the community.

What steps does the Town of Lincoln Council need to take to save the school?

1) direct Town staff to confirm any legal/contractual obligations and costs of saving the entire school with the DSBN.

2) amend its current practice so that buildings owned by public or private organizations can be designated without the owner's consent. Look to other municipalities for best practice.

3) designate the original school house under the Ontario Heritage Act.

4) work with the DSBN to transfer ownership of the original schoolhouse back to Lincoln.

5) work with the DSBN and its architects and contractors to safely leave the original school house intact while the other parts of the school are being demolished.

6) work with the DSBN if the schoolhouse continues to be used as a classroom.

7) otherwise, incorporate the schoolhouse as an asset in Vineland's business improvement plan.

How do I help save the original one room school house?

1. Sign one of our petitions: sign the on-line petition on change.org ; or sign an old-fashioned paper petition (we'll be at Pioneer Day in Jordan on Oct 4, Artfest on Thanksgiving weekend); or like us on the Friends of Vineland Public School 1895 facebook page or send a snail mail letter to the Mayor of Lincoln, Town of Lincoln, 4800 South Service Road, Beamsville, Ontario L0R 1B1

2. Vote in the municipal elections on October 27, 2014 for the Mayor and Councillors in your ward that will stop the demolition of the one room school house. A listing of supporters will be posted on the Friends facebook page.