On January 9, 2019, Bruce County released an RFP inviting proposals to purchase and relocate the existing building at 254 High Street (the old rectory). Proposals are due January 29th, and the building is to be moved between April 1 and April 15. If no bids are accepted, the house will be demolished.
The RFP was released at the direction of the County’s Museum Committee, which is supervising the project to expand the Museum and Archives, a project which has been in the works for several years. The Museum Committee wants to remove the old rectory to accommodate future expansion.
The Southampton Resident’s Association views the Bruce County Museum and Archives as an important part of the Southampton community, and we understand and support the need to expand the facility in order to accommodate growth. But a lesson learned last fall was that while there was substantial support for bringing the proposed Nuclear Innovation Institute to Southampton, there was also substantial opposition to demolishing the old rectory as a necessary price to pay for progress.
Mayor Charbonneau is the Chair of the Bruce County Museum Committee. We have expressed our concerns about the removal or destruction of the old rectory to Mayor Charbonneau for the following reasons:
- · The building project does not require removal of the rectory at this time. In fact, the County’s original approach to St. Paul’s church was to purchase only the north end of the rectory lot, roughly the portion extending to the old garage.
- · The timetable for removal is unnecessarily tight, making it difficult, if not impossible, for potential bidders to respond.
- · Lack of publicity means that potential investors or purchasers are unaware of the opportunity to purchase and relocate an attractive house.
- · The old rectory is part of a historic neighborhood that will be diminished if it is removed.
We believe that a core mission of a museum is to preserve our history and interpret it for future generations. It will be a shame if that objective is met merely through some old photographs preserved in an archive. A better solution would be to come up with a more imaginative design for museum expansion that is welcoming to the neighbourhood, provides inviting public access and sightlines from Victoria Street to Fairy Lake, and incorporates a repurposed rectory building into the project.
We call on the Bruce County Museum Committee to delay the timetable outlined its RFP and consider better solutions.