15 Good Reasons To Save Old Schools


Architectural Illustration by Christine Hempel

In Owen Sound, Ontario, they just voted to permit the demolition of this historic 1891 school, but promise a "greening" of their site plan. We learn about this on, yes, Historic Schools Day. We go on and on about how the greenest brick is the one already in the wall, but there are more reasons than just that. Renee Kuhman of The National Trust For Historic Preservation puts together a list of ten reasons that old schools are worth saving.

Reason #1 - They're old. Yes, that's right - we love them because they have served and continue to educate our students. From the worn grooves on their staircases to their old-fashioned lockers, these buildings simply exude history.

Reason #2 - We like how they look. We love admiring their architecture, which has been enjoyed by generations before us.

Reason #3 - We like where they're located. We think being able to walk and bike to school is pretty cool, not to mention the fact that it's great for the environment.

Reason #4 - We like their "compact build" (small footprint, multiple stories, etc.), which allow them to be nestled in our neighborhoods.

Reason #5 - We appreciate the workmanship and long-lasting materials that went into them. We like walking on their gleaming terrazzo floors and appreciate the longevity of their slate roofs.

Reason #6 - We think the schools' civic design and prominent placement shows how much education was - and is - valued by community members.

Reason #7 - We like wondering about the generations who came before us. Did the folks in those old class photos have as much trouble in high school as I did? Did we take math in the same classroom? Did I use their locker?

Reason #8 - We enjoy seeing our neighbors there - whether it's to vote, to enjoy a potluck supper, or to walk around the track after hours.

Reason # 9 - We appreciate the care that has gone into maintaining the building...even more so now that we're older ourselves.

Reason #10 - We like that they are true centers of community.

That is from the National Trust, but I think I could add a few more:

Reason 11: They are flexible. They are not value engineered within an inch of their lives but have big rooms that can be used in many different ways.

Reason 12: They are already standing. The energy embodied in their bricks has been bought and paid for. The carbon footprint of their replacement is huge.

Reason 13: They have big windows and high ceilings. They were designed before fossil fuels were cheap and take best advantage of natural light and air.

Reason 14: They are solid. They have been around for a long time and were built to last.

Reason 15: We are going to be designing buildings like this again. Why tear down the ones we already have?

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