Richard Smith holds an antique clock, complete with picture of King George, that told time inside the newly repurposed Peachland school when it opened in 1908.
With the completion of a long renovation process, the stately Beach Avenue building fronting onto Okanagan Lake now houses a visitor information centre, the chamber of commerce office, a Boys and Girls Club and a unique interpretive centre on bats.
In fact, it's the presence in the 105-year-old-building of a sizable bat colony that likely saved the structure from being torn down after it closed as a school in 2002.
Provincial regulations prohibit the destruction of a bat colony, notes Richard Smith, a Peachlander who was involved in efforts to preserve the building and find another use for it.
"Once (town) council realized the building couldn't just be knocked down all that easily because of the bats, I think that helped breathe new life into efforts to restore the school," Smith, who serves as the town's unofficial historian, said Thursday.
In 2009, town council officially voted to renovate the school, but it took a couple years to secure all the necessary funding from various levels of government.
In total, the project cost more than $700,000 and involved bringing many aspects of the structure up to modern-day building code provisions.
"The transformation of this building from a derelict, boarded-up eyesore to a magnificent new community facility has been an amazing accomplishment," said Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding.
The four-room schoolhouse opened in 1908, one year before Peachland was incorporated as a town. When it opened, Peachland did not yet have electricity and there was a large gold mine in the hills above the town.
The school had Grades 1-12 until 1949, when George Pringle Secondary opened in nearby Westbank.
Classes up to Grade 6 continued until a new school was built away from the lake on Clements Crescent in 2002. The town of Peachland bought the property from the school board for $75,000 in 2003.
The official opening ceremony of the new Peachland Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre takes place Saturday from 2:30 to 4 p.m.