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'It's beautiful': Over 30 years of restoration work is complete on nearly 130-year-old building in southern Manitoba

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It has taken 32 years, but the majority of the work to renovate a nearly 130-year-old building in southern Manitoba is complete.

The Prairie Skills Centre in Deloraine, Man. was constructed in 1896 as a Presbyterian Church for the area. Over time the building served many different roles – from a school, to council offices, to a police department, and the town jail.

By 1991, the town council at the time was looking to demolish the building. That's when Prairie Skills Inc. stepped in, leasing the building with the goal of refurbishing it and making the space available for the community.

Prairie Skills Centre in Deloraine, Man. (Source: Cathey Day. Uploaded Jan. 14, 2024)

Cathey Day, the chair of the Board of Directors for Prairie Skills Inc., said the building is very unique and in a small community like Deloraine, it's important to keep.

"It's beautiful. When you drive into the town of Deloraine from the west, it's on the landscape," said Day. "Many people have told us when they're coming into our town what a beautiful building it is."

Over the 32-year refurbishing process, the building has received new roofing, new windows for gothic cathedral frames, the upper and lower levels have been gutted and redone, and hydro was installed.

Restoration work inside Prairie Skills Centre in Deloraine, Man. (Source: Cathey Day. Uploaded Jan. 14, 2024)

The upper and lower levels of Prairie Skills Centre were completely gutted and redone. (Source: Cathey Day. Uploaded Jan. 14, 2024)

The finished product of the restoration work inside Prairie Skills Centre. (Source: Cathey Day. Uploaded Jan. 14, 2024)

All the work was able to be done through government grants and support from the community. This past fall, Day said the work was finished in the upper level, meaning it was available to the public and there have already been weddings and concerts inside the hall.

"It was phenomenal because it's been a long journey. Many of us have raised our children volunteering in that space."

Day noted there is still some minor work left – having another entrance for the building – but with the main work done, it can be a place for the community to gather and bring in a number of events.

"We definitely already have events booked (for 2024)."

The setup for a wedding inside Prairie Skills Centre after the building was refurbished. (Source: Cathey Day. Uploaded Jan. 14, 2024)

A concert being performed inside Prairie Skills Centre. (Source: Cathey Day. Uploaded Jan. 14, 2024)

Even though the work on the inside of the building is complete, Day said it's important to continue to have the community be involved and get future generations involved with its upkeep.

"We want to offer different ways to bring different people into the space. We want the space available for rent. We want all of those people to think about different ways that they could come into the space and provide us with the economic benefit to keep the building heated and running."

She plans on continuing to talk with people in the community and listen to all ideas so the centre continues to thrive for years to come.

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