Someone has made an offer to purchase the former Co-op building in Almonte before it is due to be demolished this week. “I am very busy with the Levine .building in Carleton Place,” Judith Hughes said last week, “ or personally, I wouldn’t have taken an interest. But when it comes to the last line,” she stated, she had to stop the building from being destroyed. (read-The Day The Moose in Carleton Place Burned Down)
“ Once it’s gone you can’t ‘replace it,” she said. “I like to put things back exactly as they were. That’s my business,” Mrs Hughes proposes to restore the outside of the structure to its original configuration, with a full-length front porch and balcony on the second floor. All of the bricked-in windows would be re-opened, and paint across the front of the building would be removed with a chemical wash.
The lookout tower would be rebuilt and opened to the public. The interior would see a new building constructed inside the existing shell. Her own engineers would determine the structural strengths and weaknesses, but sellers BAMP investments of Ottawa have stated that the building is “ structurally sound.”
Her plans call for the main floor to be a dining lounge. The upper two floors, with their impressive view, is being designed for a number of one bedroom apartments, “ suitable for couples or seniors,” she stated. “ I think there’s a need for a good dining lounge in Almonte.” The plans as outlined, “ would not conflict with planned zoning changes” slated for March 25 at the council chambers, which would change the back part of the property to “ residential,” for townhouse construction by Brylin Construction.
Clerk Des Houston said the lot line in the proposal is at the rear of the former Co-op building, and does not preclude the demolition of the building. Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, (LA C A C ) members are ecstatic with the last minute development in status for the edifice, a life-long landmark in Almonte, built around 1860 as Riley’s Hotel. On July 1, 1865 it was advertised in the North Lanark Advance as “ The British Hotel, Queen Street, Almonte, Patrick Riley, Proprietor, The best boarding and lodging at reasonable rates. The best liquors always on hand. Good stabling attached to the house.” Jean Macpherson, chairperson of the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Board said, “ LACAC supports any move to restore the building to its original condition.
Local historian John Dunn grew up across the road from The China Mission Society, which occupied the establishment briefly, as a site to train the first all-Canadian contingent of missionaries for the Orient. He felt it would be a difficult job, but was “ all for” seeing the original facade restored. Joan Rivington, a prominent businesswoman in Almonte said, “ I would do anything to see it saved.
There is a long battle ahead for Mrs Hughes, because her offer is contingent on many factors. Realtor Garth Teskey, acting for the present owners to sell the building, was not optimistic, but wished Mrs. Hughes luck in her efforts. “The building is not sold yet,” he stated Monday, “There are lots of hurdles and many conditions to be met. The demolition order has to be squashed and town council would have to change their direction.”
In the past, the council turned down a request from LACAC to have the building designated as a heritage site on the grounds that it would be more difficult to dispose of. Deputy reeve Herb Pragnell was active, in the movement at that time and is still interested in saving it from the demolishers, who are scheduled to start disassembling the building within days. Mr Teskey continued, “it would have to be inspected to see if it was structurally sound.”
Despite all the obstacles and last minute nature of the reprieve Mrs Hughes-was resolved, “I ’m a pretty determined person once I set my mind to something,”
It was also, at one time the “China Missions”, that upon moving from Almonte became known as “Scarborough Foreign Missions.”
Linda Eastman they didn’t have rules or guidance back then regarding heritage buildings and their preservation. We lost the train station building for that same reason. Definitely a shame but something that happens very seldom any more.
Linda Eastman And even some buildings are too expensive for owners to maintain at some point, they weren’t necessarily built to last forever. The land itself becomes too valuable to keep an old relic alive, and don’t forget the difference in taxes on unoccupied lots. Sometimes, old means time’s up. Unless the government steps in, then we all pay for it, whether we want to or not.
I worked in the coop building cleaning and treating seed grain for local farmers at this time of year. Gerald Valentyne hired me to work the night shift and Russell Turner worked the day shift. We used to take a load of grist into there on occasions.
Lived across from the Co-Op on Union St. they day the Co-Op came down we stood and watched all day. My kids were amazed.
I worked there during summer holidays in 1965 and 1966. Heavy hard work!!!! Bill Andrews was there….Gerry Valentine ….Sandy Wright…..and one other guy. It had an elevator that you used a rope to raise and lower it from inside after you put some feed bags into it. Fire drills were scary. You had a harness to get into and a bar slid out and you had to lower yourself to the ground with a rope contraption. Lifting 100lb bags all day and no air back then!!!! Lots of fun. Big money @ 2.00/ hr.
Stuart Hurdis and his sister helped serve food to people when his Grandmother owned the hotel… No alcohol was served.
At the time it was taken down the story was that major beams had been cut by the coop to install grain chutes and that it was unsafe. Seemed to be fine the whole time the co-op owned it. I lived across the street on Queen when it came down. I have a brick wall in my house from the brick. Wood shed from floor boards and a few keystones including the one from the front door.
A majestic building in its day.