New school: LeMarchant-St. Thomas Elementary

Early Saturday morning, while on the way to the farmers’ markets, I realized it was a perfect moment to pause and walk around the outside of the brand new LeMarchant-St. Thomas Elementary school. This joyfully contemporary collection of colourful shapes sits comfortably at the bottom of LeMarchant Street.

The new building is on the site of the St. Thomas Aquinas school, constructed in 1923. Each reflects their moment in time. I wrote a blog post about my adventures at the old school in 2015, around the time it was demolished.

The school bounces across its generous landscape. Big windows abound, often surrounded by frames in a rainbow of different colours.

In the 1950s I used to play in the big multi-acre lot back of the school. Then it was a wild meadow with rock ledges and hollows you could hide in. Now graded smooth, it is a freshly sodded grassland.

On the plaza beside the front entrance is a cluster of fixed tables and seats. I imagine these occupied in the morning by parents with their coffee thermos, chatting to neighbours, once the kids have been whisked inside.

Car parking is discreetly arranged along the east side of the lot, and visually broken up by plantings of trees. Because it is 2019 there is a charging station. Undoubtedly I did not notice or recognize all sorts of other features on the building and site.

There are pictures of the school’s interior online and what I’ve seen looks fun. Through the front windows you can see the large assembly space at the entrance, with a stepped stage, perfect for everyday drama.

The building design was by Architecture49, and the nicely detailed landscape was designed by Vollick McKee Petersmann.

I stopped by the site again in early evening so Sheila could see what was going on. Then there were families taking advantage of the new playground equipment and a steady stream of folks wandering onto the site. It felt like a community hub.

I look forward to watching the plantings mature, but like all projects, so much depends on the standard of maintenance, and this is a lot of building to care for. And watch out for “do not” or “not allowed” signs, those things multiply like rabbits.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.