The potential demolition of two Hamilton buildings has prompted the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) to make a formal request asking provincial Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Chan to intervene.
The ACO has asked Chan to designate the buildings at 24 and 28 King Street East under the Ontario Heritage Act after the property owner came to an agreement with the City of Hamilton’s Planning Committee that would allow the buildings to be demolished.
Previously, the city’s Heritage Committee had called for heritage designation for a stretch of properties from 18 to 28 King Street East, but the deal brokered would allow property owner Wilson Blanchard to demolish 24 and 28 King Street East while maintaining the façade and front portions of the rest of the buildings along the strip.
The protected portion of the site would be renovated to bring in high-end retail tenants at ground level with residential units above.
The ACO argues that the buildings, located on the south side of Gore Park are historically significant as they contribute to the area’s character and hearken back to the pre-Confederation and Victorian eras. The organization also says the buildings have ties to noted architect William Thomas.
Thomas designed the buildings from 18 to 22 King Street East, and they were constructed in 1840. The buildings at 24 and 28 King Street East were built from 1874 to 1876.
“Protecting built heritage is no longer a strictly local matter: the Act is now clear that the Province shares responsibility for ensuring the protection of our heritage buildings and landscapes,” the ACO said in a release.
The call to preserve the buildings has already garnered the attention of Hamilton residents, who asked Chan to step in and designate the building. According to an amendment to the Ontario Heritage Act that came into effect in 2005, the province has the power to intercede and save heritage buildings from the wrecking ball.
Chan, however, has suggested the push to designate the buildings is a municipal issue.
While the ACO argues that the buildings are in decent shape and could be restored, Wilson Blanchard has argued that 24 and 28 King Street East are in need of serious work and that the cost of restoring them would be prohibitive.
Published on 22 January 2013