Founded in 2011 by a group of community members, the Old School Community Gathering Place is a non-profit cooperative, functioning as a centre for arts, culture and innovation. Our facility features a multipurpose room, commercial kitchen, as well as a volunteer-run Art Gallery and the Musquodoboit Harbour Community Garden.
We offer a wide range of programming based in the arts, wellness and improving the lives of residents of all ages along the Eastern Shore. Recent federal funding has allowed us to offer a youth employability program and a dance therapy program for residents with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diagnoses. Volunteers lead regular programming like a French Conversation Café, three levels of Tai Chi for Arthritis, Fibre Friends - a fibre arts drop-in - and our Community Music Jam.
In addition to our programming and Community Garden, we also house Eastern Shore Mental Health (link to Programming page, ESMH section), a peer-based mental health support service.
Our space is also available for individuals and organizations to rent as a venue for their own programming.
THE HISTORY OF THE OLD SCHOOL
Built in 1924, The Old School began its life as a very modern rural school and operated as such until its closure in 2006. According to the Superintendent of Education Report for 1924, "A new two-room school building, by far the best in rural Halifax, is under construction in Musquodoboit Harbour," (p. 57). It is thought that Robert Stoddart from Jeddore built the Craftsman-style building, though this has not been verified.
That the school was indeed 'state of the art' is evident from what its early students (Pearl Turner and Dorothy Facie) remember as being so wonderful: hot air heating (no wood stoves), indoor plumbing (no cold outhouse), three cloakrooms (one for the boys, one for the girls and one for the teachers), one of which was later turned into a lab.
The Craftsman style of the building was popular in Nova Scotia in the twenties, owing a great deal to the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Advocates of the Movement felt that good design had been lost in industrialized production and were keen to demonstrate that well-designed and well-made objects, including houses and schools, added joy, beauty and value to everyday life. Typical are a gently sloping roof, broad eaves and exposed rafter ends. The rafters and eaves evoke medieval English building practices, so admired by the Movement.
The building endures, and is a delight for former students to revisit and see how it continues to be used by the community today.
Although it looks large on the outside, it had only two classrooms: the Big Room and Little Room. With an average enrollment of rural schools in the Musquodoboit area was 27, one room was for grades 1 to 6 and the other 7 to 11. The basement had two rooms, including the furnace room which had a cement floor and so was where physical education took place.