Ship in a bottle.

I tried a bit of night-time photo-making for this week’s Thursday Doors contribution:

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The public library (branded as Idea Exchange) in the Hespeler community of Cambridge, Ontario currently stands as an uncommon blend of old and new – the outer shell of this structure is constructed with glass, encasing the historic brick building within while also housing the modern extension.

The renovations, completed in 2007, received mixed reviews from locals, even though the design was granted an Award of Excellence by Canadian Architect magazine, among other honours.

As you may know, I’m a sucker for historic buildings, and part of me would’ve liked better exterior visibility of the original structure. However, I’m also a sucker for bright, airy interiors (and libraries in general, of course). The glass, the height, and the clean modern lines create a unique and comfortable indoor space. When inside, being able to circle the original building – to view and touch and appreciate the exposed brick up close – provides an odd but pleasant feeling of being both indoors and outdoors at once.

Today’s main entrance is located on the northeast side of the building:

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If you squint through this sheet of glass, you’ll be able to view the location of the original entryway, round the southeast side:

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It looks a tad different than it did back in 1923:

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Photo courtesy Law Photography via Cambridge Archives, c. 1923.

Idea Exchange is currently working on another overhaul of a historic structure in the Galt area of Cambridge – the old Post Office – and I understand there’s also a fair amount of glass involved in this particular re-imagination. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

 

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Jail time.

A few weeks ago, the munchkins were happily sent off to their grandparents’ place (thanks, Mom and Dad) so that the Mr. and I could wander around town looking at old stuff.

It was during the Doors Open Hamilton event in May that I fell in love with The Cotton Factory, a block of historic industrial buildings now transformed into a vibrant arts community, full of artsy people and their creations.

This time, Doors Open took place in Waterloo Region. We began our outing at the Pioneer Tower (c. 1926), climbing an enclosed 50-foot narrow staircase to the observation deck. Well… it was actually more ladder-ish than staircase-ish. I managed to avoid having an acrophobia-related panic attack. Barely.

In Cambridge, we toured the renovated interiors of the former Galt Carnegie Library (c. 1903). (I spied no ladders in that building, and though there were stairs, they weren’t the panic-inducing kind.)

The old Waterloo County Jail (c. 1852) had an intimate landscaped stone courtyard – a former “exercise yard” for inmates – with arched entrances. No ladders or staircases here, just benches. Good for play-it-safers like me, especially those whom have recently averted height-activated anxiety attacks.

Here, then, as an addition to the collection of interesting entryways found at Norm’s Thursday Doors weekly feature, are a few shots:

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No more pencils, no more books.

While most schools are buzzing with kids this time of year, this particular educational institution sits, silent, on a hilltop in Cambridge, Ontario.

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Dickson Public School closed in 2014 due to its age and a dwindling student population. It had served the community for nearly 140 years.

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The building is beautiful, constructed of local cut limestone in a simple but pleasing design. It’s situated on the west side of the Grand River, a focal point in a neighbourhood of historic homes and architecture.

Apologies for the harsh shadows in these photos. The weather was definitely agreeable for a visit, but I wasn’t able to capture the front of the building without some interference from the sun.

I’d been hoping for some grand front doors to go along with the rest of the design. The arched front porch is lovely, but the bland, industrial entrance was a bit of a disappointment.

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The building has been empty for three years, but fortunately there are plans to redevelop the site into modern office space, along with the addition of a new 10-unit townhouse complex on the property. The developer intends to preserve both the exterior of the school and many of the unique and historic interior features.

I get a little dreamy when I wander around old buildings, wondering about times gone by. The generations of schoolkids who once roamed these empty halls, their laughter echoing over this deserted playground. Sadly, round the back, there are reminders of some of the harsh realities of today.

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Time will tell what changes are to come.

P.S.
If you’d like to look at more interesting entryways, be sure to visit Norm 2.0 for his weekly feature, Thursday Doors.