It is apropos that in the middle of Heritage Week on P.E.I., the preservation of this building was a topic of discussion at the city council meeting.
The two-storey structure was completed in 1912 as a training site for members of the military. Just a couple of years later, when the First World War broke out, new recruits used the grounds, known as Armoury Square, for regular drills. The Armoury was also used on a regular basis for army recruitment during the Second World War and the headquarters of B Squadron.
After the First World War, it was the location for Chautauquas that brought entertainment and culture to Summerside.
The Armoury also housed the Great War Veterans Association clubroom and the Royal Canadian Legion.
The building was sold to the City of Summerside in 1996 and currently houses the International Fox Museum and Gallery 33.
Now, the building needs major restorative work.
On Tuesday, city council approved $10,000 to commission a report on how to renovate the building and remodel it into a modern, interactive interpretive centre.
They would like to make it a more enticing attraction.
And that’s fine, as long as the final price tag is one the city can afford.
Initial estimates are about $900,000, with a large portion expected to be sourced from outside funding partners such as the federal government.
The city is also looking for a use the former train station another significant downtown structure, which had, up until a couple of months ago, housed the Summerside Rotary Library. City Council recently called for expressions of interest for the surplus building.
It’s time the city did more than deal with one historic building at a time and take a step back to examine all the old properties the city owns and determine which ones are worth saving and which ones can be disposed of or sold off.
They don’t have to do that alone. City residents and business owners will ultimately be footing the bill for the upkeep and renovation of these architectural gems and should be included in the process.
Once a final list is determined, work can then begin on preserving, improving and determining their uses.
First step should be a list, then formulating a plan for the properties on this list and including taxpayers in the process.