Proverbs 22.28 "Do not remove the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set"
During the closing months of 2008 a group of citizens in Ridgetown (half way between Windsor and London) fought unsuccessfully to save the Erie Street United Church from demolition. Designed in 1875 in Gothic revival style by noted Toronto architect Henry Langley, construction was supervised by the young William G. Malcomson (1853 – 1937). Malcomson went on to become an award-winning Detroit-based architect, President of the American Institute of Architects and advisor to President Hoover.
During the battle to save the building the ACO and the Ontario Heritage Trust gave almost daily support, advice and advocacy. It was clear that, while the loss of the Langley/Malcomson building will be mourned for decades to come, there were many other buildings in Chatham-Kent which are also threatened. It was decided to apply to form a branch of the ACO in the area and at the Council meeting in January 2009 Chatham-Kent was officially welcomed as the 21st ACO branch.
Chatham-Kent is a community of rural communities with Chatham as the administrative centre. Because CK residents are so scattered, a committee of “guardians” has been set up whose members can monitor buildings in their own area. We shall be working with the Council-appointed Heritage Committee to list buildings of importance.
Since our formation a number of buildings at risk have been saved - notably the Pines Chapel in Chatham and the Highgate United Church in the hamlet of Highgate. Driven by a small dedicated group of local volunteers with assistance from an ACO Preservation Works! evaluation by John Rutledge and support from the Ontario Heritage Trust, the Highgate United Church has seen a successful adaptive reuse and is now transformed into The Mary Webb Cultural and Community Centre with active music and community programmes. Check www.marywebbcentre.ca for details. To date the building has been designated, the roof repaired and stained glass windows are in the process of being repaired. Architect Peter Cook of Jorden & Cook of Chatham was selected from a number of excellent architects to help solve the problem of bringing the building up to modern codes while maintaining its heritage. This will be done by adding an extension to the original building to house an elevator lift making it totally accessible, adding required washrooms and heating and cooling systems. Both John S. Taylor and Marlee Robinson were on the original committee. Marlee remains on the working Board.
Generally our aims are to educate and to advocate.
Action items include
• begin an education programme aimed at our fellow citizens, our Councillors, our MPP and our MP on the importance of our cultural heritage.
• create a register of craftsmen, engineers and architects who can help in maintenance and restoration of older buildings
• assemble a list of Foundations and grant-giving organisations which can help fund restoration of our historic buildings.
• encourage re-use instead of demolition for buildings such as schools, churches farmhouses and barns which are no longer needed for their original purpose.
• educate people on the advantages of designation of heritage buildings
• lobby our government representatives on the local, provincial and federal level to give tax incentives and grants to help care for those buildings which may be owned by individuals or companies but are the responsibility of the whole community."
• research information on architects who built in Chatham-Kent with the aim of publishing a book on them to raise the level of awareness of the importance of our architecture
We have a Youth Coordinator who recently received her Masters degree in Social History. She will be reaching out to other young people, to schools and to libraries to increase awareness of our architectural heritage and to initiate activities of interest to our younger members.
Chatham-Kent already has a Doors Open programme and we shall encourage that to develop and grow stronger.
Buildings at Risk
2017 Meeting Schedule for ACO Ontario
January 30, 2017 to December 30, 2017
Schedule of Executive and Council Meetings for 2017. Please open the attached pdf to see the full schedule. This document will be revised periodically as dates and locations are confirmed.
ACO EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR BILL C-323
Bill establishes tax credits for rehabilitation of historic properties
ACO supports Private Member's Bill C-323, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Rehabilitation of Historic Property), which will receive second reading in the House of Commons on February 10. This bill will establish a tax credit for expenses related to the rehabilitation of a historic property. It also establishes a tax deduction for the capital cost of property used in the course of such a rehabilitation.
MP Peter Van Loan Proposes Tax Credits for Heritage Properties
National Trust for Canada is organizing Response
MP Peter Van Loan has introduced a Private Members Bill proposing Income Tax Credits to assist private owners of heritage property with restoration costs. This is good news for heritage, whether or not it passes as widespread support for the initiative may result in either passage or a similar bill from government. National Trust for Canada is organizing heritage organizations across the country. ACO's Policy Committee will be developing a formal response from ACO.
Highgate United Church
May 13, 2010