259 Scott Street
This property received Heritage Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act on February 28th, 2000. “Erected at the end of the 19th century as a public school, this building has been a focal point for community activities and continues to serve the community into the 21st century as the Fort Frances Museum. This building, so designated, is of historic and cultural value to the community of Fort Frances.”
The Scott Street School building heralded future development along the street. Completed in 1898, the school filled the need of a community that had grown beyond the capacity of a Little Red School House. A debenture of $2,500 was raised for the two-story structure that boasted a full basement, plaster throughout and a central-heating furnace. In the classroom, factory-made desks held two pupils each. Early students apparently enjoyed an old pump organ that the teacher played as the pupils marched into the school. Unfortunately, as she could only play one tune, the musical setting soon lost its appeal.
By 1914, the Scott Street School became too small for the growing population. After construction of the Robert Moore School in 1914, the old school was used for continuation classes and later became a high school. In 1923, a new high school was built between First and Second Street, and in 1928 this building became the home of the Royal Canadian Legion. Since 1968. the building has been used as a police station, assessment office, and Chamber of Commerce, until 1978 when the Fort Frances Museum opened at this site.
In the Heart of Downtown
As the functions of the Scott Street building changed, the street grew around it. On June 16, 1905, a $20,000 fire razed Front Street - the original business block of town. Rumoured to have been started by a tipped over lantern at the hardware store, the fire quickly spread to nearby buildings. Ironically, a newly purchased steam-operated fire engine sat idle on a railway flat car as the business district burned. A disagreement between Town Council and the manufacturer was later resolved and the town accepted the fire engine.
After the fire, high prices asked for Front Street propertly led many businesses to rebuild on Scott Street, making it the new "main street". Now a century later, Scott Street has evolved into a “downtown,” providing retail and service for the community.