The former Anglican church rectory at 254 High Street, adjacent Bruce County Museum in Southampton.

On January 9, Bruce County released a Request For Proposal (RFP) inviting proposals to purchase and relocate the existing building at 254 High Street, the former Anglican rectory. Proposals are due January 29 and the building is to be moved between April 1 and April 15. The County stated that proposals to move the house will be given preference but if no such bids are received, proposals for salvage will be considered.

In a statement from the Southampton Residents' Association (SRA), the RFP was released at the direction of the County’s Museum Committee which is supervising the expansion of 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 (SRA) 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.

Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke 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 neighbourhood that will be diminished if it is removed.

The SRA believes 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 sight lines from Victoria Street to Fairy Lake, and incorporates a repurposed rectory building into the project.

The SRA calls on the Bruce County Museum Committee to delay the timetable outlined in its RFP and consider better solutions.


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