Starland County sees a future in its past and is looking into how it can take care of a unique historical building.
Starland CAO Shirley Bremer tells The Mail they are working on securing title to the Springwater School.
“We are hoping to do a title transfer, but first we have to find the original directors of the Springwater Homestead Foundation, that’s what I have been working on,” said Bremer.
She explains that council made a motion that it would be agreeable to taking over the title.
“The reason we need title is then we can apply to for heritage grants,” she explains. “We would also designate as a Municipal Historic Resource and then we are able to apply for heritage type grants mainly to keep the building in good enough repair to keep it standing.”
The Mail reported on the condition and history of the Springwater School in August of last year. This is when a group of tourists happened upon the one-room school.
The Springwater area north of Michichi was opened to homesteading in 1910, and by 1913, members of the community began petitioning for a school.
It was built in 1922 by a stonemason name Shields. It was used as a school and then in 1952 was sold to the Majestic Farrell Lake Women’s Institute for $200. From there, it took on a second life as a community centre and hosted everything from bridal showers to weddings. In 1995 the Springwater Homestead Foundation was formed. Over the last few years, the Delia Historical Society has been acting as caretaker.
“The Delia Historical Society has been looking after it and have been doing a great job of patching up this and fixing up that, and linseed oil the floors every year to keep it up and we are hoping they will still work with us,” said Bremer, adding she acknowledges it is a big responsibility for the volunteers.
Bremer said that representatives from Alberta Culture and Tourism have toured the site and see it as a worthy building to upkeep. If it were designated a historical site and the county was to secure a grant, the repairs and restoration would have to be done with historical accuracy in mind.
“When you are doing anything with heritage grants you have to comply. For example, if it had cedar shakes on it, that is what you repair it with. You don’t put tin on it and be done. You have to replace with as close to the material they used originally,” said Bremer.
Overall the building is in good shape, however, she says there is some exterior work such as replacing some shingles and resealing the mortar to keep moisture out of the joints is needed.
“It is amazing that the site is unlocked and people go in it and tour,” said Bremer. “It is so neat that people can drive up and go inside, and that is what we are hoping for. It’s a great place to go and look around.”