The Community Press has a nice, 'soft' article (as we call these in print) on the history and present circumstances of S.S. No. 5 Brickley Separate School, opened in 1855. The Northumberland County school is now in private ownership, and the article looks at what the owners might do with the structure along with some historical context. As a history buff (I minored, but could have double-majored, in history while taking my journalism degree), I eat this sort of stuff up.
People in the area have been wondering what's to become of the school, which closed in 1968, and the (Sean and Charity) Hannigans obligingly spoke about their acquisition. Archival records kept by the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board were also made available.The article also speaks to one of the few constants in education (and society at large): change. From the birth of separate (read: Catholic, in most parts of Ontario) schooling, to the end of one- and two-room schoolhouses in the 1960s, it's all referenced here.
"We decided to buy the Brickley schoolhouse as it adjoins our property – our house and property surrounds the school," Charity replied in an e-mail to questions from this paper.
"At the present time we have/are tinkering away at a few things inside and out but with two smaller children, both working fulltime, and living in an older home that we enjoy updating and renovating, as well as taking the time and money to fix it up, is a factor that has prevented us in doing anything to it," Charity told The Community Press.
Both she and her husband are intrigued by the schoolhouse, its history and its architecture.
The Hannigans have have been kicking around several ideas about what to do with the schoolhouse but have not yet made a decision.
"We have had many ideas of our own and many from others, including some ideas such as an antique shop, tea room, music studio or living quarters," she explained.
For the Hannigans it seems to be a labour of love as they attempt to preserve a historic structure of significance to the community.
S.S. No. 5 Brickley Separate School, located at the junction of County Road 25 and the Eight Line, was built on land donated by John Brickley. It served an Irish immigrant community, typical of many that existed throughout the board's region.
In 1843 the Act for the Establishment of Separate Schools was passed. When Brickley opened in 1855, the log school had 50 pupils in attendance. Two dates – 1871 and 1873 – surfaced in the archival material as to when the structure that exists today was built.