A notice appeared in the newspaper saying the old funeral home had been sold and would become a preschool. That building's been there for decades. It's handsome, the way those places used to be. It was vacant for a long time but the grounds around it were always manicured.
Our town has experienced a population boom-let in the under-5-year-old category and every preschool has a long waiting list, so though it seemed odd at first, making use of this well-situated property does make sense. Still it's quite a stretch to imagine this place changing so far from one point in the circle of life to the extreme other.
The construction permit was taped to the heavy door, then the orange cones and heavy equipment arrived. The parking lot concrete left in trucks but the building remained intact. Those leaded windows could stand replacing and how they'd reconfigure remained a mystery. It still looked more funeral home than preschool.
I returned from an overnight trip and all of a sudden bright blue playground equipment had appeared, rising up from the very spot where people used to enter in a hearse at the end of life.
A giant blue jungle gym, blue slides and swings changed everything. With these in place, the real promise of the project is already realized. For the next however-long this incarnation lasts, it's gone from a place for sadness to a smile-inducing destination. From stately to noisy is the perfect re-purposing.
Ó Anita Garner 2009
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