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254 High Street

The former Anglican rectory at 254 High Street in Southampton.

Hub Staff

Over a seven month period, the former Anglican rectory at 254 High Street went from being considered for a spot on the Saugeen Shores Heritage Register to potential demolition.

The property, adjacent Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre, has been in the spotlight in recent months. The property was purchased in 2018 for the expansion of the Museum's Archives. A plan to also house Bruce Power's Ontario Nuclear Innovation Institute on the site was later revoked. Bruce County issued a Request for Proposal in January calling for the "purchase and relocation" of the former manse or, if no such bids were received, salvage would be considered.

Some residents have been fighting for the preservation of the historic manse and a recent Court Application filed by Southampton resident Laura Robinson has given them a glimmer of hope.

Robinson said that in the fall of 2018, she learned that the Krug Reserve Fund had been used to purchase the property and because Robinson knew Howard and Bruce Krug personally, she questioned how a fund that originated from two avid historians, could support the demolition of this building. The will of Bruce Krug reflects Robinson’s description of the brothers as great history enthusiasts, wherein they left monetary gifts to a number of historical and cultural organizations such as the Bruce County Historical Society, the Bruce County Genealogy Society, a number of churches, the Chesley Cemetery and more.

In a paragraph of the will, Krug leaves $500,000 to the County of Bruce, upon trust “for the Archives building for the storage and display of the archives of the county, in memory of Howard and Bruce Krug.”

As Robinson explained in a phone interview March 29, the court application is alleging that “buying a rectory with plans to demolish it is not for the Archives building for the storage and display of the archives, in memory of Howard and Bruce Krug.” As she repeated that last line again, "in memory of," she noted that the demolition of the manse to build a county facility is more of an insult than an honour to their legacy.

Robinson is not the only citizen who has attempted to take action against the County’s proposal. In a January 22 letter to Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau and Huron-Kinloss Mayor and Bruce County Warden Mitch Twolan, Jill Taylor, a Heritage Conservation Architect, requested that the plans of the rectory be immediately halted and claimed the County and Township have “failed in their obligations set out in the Planning Act (PA), the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) and Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) to conserve significant heritage resources."

Taylor argued the decisions which have prescribed the fate of the rectory were not adequately communicated to the community and the hastiness of the RFP suggested a “true lack of interest in moving, and a preference for the demolition of the building." She stressed the public’s preference to preserve the structure as presented to former Mayor Mike Smith and Saugeen Shores Council at the August 5, 2018 County Council Meeting.

Taylor expressed the high potential for adapting the existing residence to suit the needs of a new facility and the lack of consideration in said potential from the County. Furthermore, she acknowledged a failure to appreciate the negative impact the removal of the manse will leave on the Town of Saugeen Shores as was presented in detail by Charles Hazell at the March 11 Town Council Meeting.

Robinson confirmed via telephone that a hearing is scheduled for August 8, 2019 in Walkerton Court.

Related:  More land for Bruce County Museum

RFP open for the purchase and relocation of the Anglican rectory

Residents fight for the preservation of 254 High Street

Nuclear Innovation Institute to look for a new site

Editor's Note: The original version of this story indicated that the property had been considered for the Ontario Heritage Register when in fact it was considered for the Saugeen Shores Heritage Register. The information has been corrected above.