The original plans (concepts shared with the public in 2017) had a couple of performance rooms included. Is there still plans for that type of space where performances can be offered?
Yes, currently, there are two, actually 3 technically, that is meant for community; 1 room on the main floor, a large room specific for community space and also has a separate entrance so if someone wants to use it after hours, it can be shut from the rest of the building; the genealogy room, encompasses two rooms where one has genealogy files and the other will be interactive and engaging where visitors can sit with the archival works for review; there will be a room with textiles and craftsmanship theme meant to be a flexible work space or used as a workshop.
Will there be provisions on the exterior as well for performances, like a small stage for example?
This can be accommodated. The intention and idea are to pay close attention to what’s already there and not try to change it. A lot of the plants located there were gifts to the Fathers (of the Ministry) and there is still an indentation on the property of the original horse and cart route. There is a lot of historical importance there that we want to give attention to and ensure as much as possible stays in tact. We will evaluate and accommodate as best as possible.
I understand that there’s an outdoor veranda as well, correct?
There is a deck and an enclosed porch. The enclosed porch is in really poor shape. Its not built correctly and falling off the building in places and in other places, its taking the wall off the building. We intend to open the front, like more of a veranda, so its open with pillars and banners between the pillars. It would be fairly deep with a wide set of stairs so there’s space to consider in regards to performances.
Also, the intention for the front foyer to be a convertible space and could function as an event space for small groups. Still in design stages at this time.
The deck along the back (behind the kitchen area) has no historic value but is in good shape. It may work well as an emergency exit space and could also be used as an entrance into the interpretation section of the gardens and purposed landscaping. The plans are not confirmed yet for this space.
During the public discussions (back in 2017), it was mentioned that there possibly could be an amphitheatre in the gardens as well as restoring an old veranda. It would be a good spot for lectures with seating outside. Is this still being considered?
The outdoor space is a great idea which can be discussed and considered. We will review original concepts for the property to determine if this and other similar things were planned.
The Torbay Museum acquired a large collection of Mummers. Is this collection is being worked into the interpretation plan and business of the History House and Museum. I think the mummering aspect has real marketing potential. What are your thoughts?
The Mummers material (collection) is still there, in storage. One of the things that the team did was complete a catalogue of what’s in the space. One of the key pieces discussed was about building interpretative exhibit space for this collection. They are gorgeous and very central to NL and Torbay.
I am wondering about the interior restoration. Will the original floorplan that was recommended by the consultants (in 2017) be adhered to? Will the current layout of the rooms stay ‘as-is’?
There has to be some changes but for the most part, only to areas that don’t have a whole lot of heritage value. There been so may internal renovations already. Everything on the main floor/level will remain only some in terms of the main walls. A lift (elevator) will be installed which, we’ve found one that will fit into the large closet room, behind the rounded wall. There will be changes to the washroom to meet accessibility requirements. The kitchen is fairly large and modern. We will do conversions in this space but using the same materials that are already in place, as much as possible. We will raise the railing on the stairwell to meet safety codes and a few other things like that, that we are required to change.
one bathroom on the second floor will be remodeled and used for exhibit and/or storage area and the other will be converted into an accessible washroom. Climate control storage on the second floor and also the basement is intended.
Also, we are still reviewing the garage on site and will decide how to handle and manage that as a museum facility; potential storage.
We will only change and do what needs to, to make sure we adhere to accessibility and change of use required by Service NL.
The consultant (2017) indicated the original wood clapboard was under the current vinyl siding and it may be salvageable. This is the same with the wooden wall/fence around the property. Are these going to be considered?
The Fence along the front is being kept. We’ve talked to a few professional carpenters and its in good shape and only a few places that need repairing. Further along the property line, there is an iron and again, needs some attention but overall, good shape. Its leaning over and we will address what needs to be done.
We are not 100% sure if the siding mentioned in the architectural report is covering the entire building. We will be taking the siding off in sections and then determine what we can do with it. If existing wood siding is salvageable, we will use it so to keep the historical character. If we can’t, wood siding will be used. Vinyl siding is not the correct approach when trying to restore a heritage building.
Also, we are reviewing how to install replica windows and evaluating how to install insulation in the attic structure and around the windows.
One of the key things that the architect is reviewing is the historic detail of what the windows were made from and see consideration on how to build replica windows of good quality materials.
The original concepts didn’t include exhibits and public space upstairs – it wasn’t accessible. An elevator was added to the plan, making it accessible and creating additional storage, exhibits and public space.
There was a monetary donation by a local family for the building development with specifics on how to use the funds. The requirements around how we adhere to this are incorporated correct?
Yes, we have a copy of the requirements and the genealogy room will be designed specifically around those requirements that were provided by this family.
Going back to the white wooden fence (around the property); in my opinion it takes away from the view. Is there significant historic value?
It was identified as a key heritage feature in the architectural report I do believe, and the intention is to bring that back to life. We have no idea on the age or when it was installed however.
Are there plans for the town of Torbay to designate this structure as a municipal heritage structure and have you inquired with Heritage NL about applying for provincial heritage designation?
We are currently seeking the highest level possible of provincial heritage designation and have been in contact with Heritage NL.
This structure is recognized as a heritage site within the town of Torbay. There are no tax breaks or credits or benefits. Its just a listing of recognized heritage sites.
It should be listed on the provincial register. The Province lists provincial, municipal and federal designations on their online register. It would be a good idea to let them know if its registered municipally or not and to add to their register.
Agreed. We will follow up with Heritage NL
There was a void of information from 2017 until now. I understand that it’s a lengthy process especially waiting for funding. Torbay Folk Arts Council formed a Heritage Sub-Committee that would like to be engaged to voice ideas and help promote.
The amount of time dedicated to this project over the last few years, (in consideration) a lot of projects (also ongoing) such as the Community Centre, the William Amherst Site at the Beach. Originally, when we (the Town) thought we secured funding, a few things changed (with the funders) which stalled the project. We (the Town) re-applied for the entirety of the funding needed.
We (the Town) made sure funding was secured prior to the federal elections. The RFP (for the construction, restoration and interpretation of History House) was issued in November; only two months after (receiving approval of funding). The commitment from this Council is there.
There is an interest from people to be involved in the marketing, to help make it a viable destination. The Torbay Folk Arts Programs may be a good fit with (programs at) History House. Can you comment on involvement?
There will be a marketing plan developed and we intend to do engagement on this as well.
From the findings of the research conducted to date, including discussions with Admiralty House Museum in Mount Pearl, its in the community’s best interest to tap into the arts sectors, helping them generate revenue and provide an avenue for marketing and skill creation while supporting the goals and mission of the facility. A creative outlet for the Community.
I recommend reaching out to Penny Rowe, a member of the Community Sector Council. When recruiting for the Board of Directors, it’s important to rely on the Community as a resource and to pick subject matter experts and representation from various sectors.
We (the Town) have spoken to Penney Rowe. She is a great resource; roles of board members, job descriptions, obligations by the board and of the town were discussed. A lot of what is being talked about this evening, we’ve also be discussing and talking about for consideration. The liability of the board and town, opportunity for growth, tapping into community, and the arts community specifically.
Development of the Board that is entangled with a Town or municipality is tricky. The Board of Directors should have been in place before development started. It should be more up front in the priority list and be in place before work is finished.
We (the Town) agree with you. This is a priority for the Town to have a governance board in place and to look at how it will function. We’re very much on the same page with everything that’s being discussed this evening when it comes to thinking about this. The project was awarded (to Fundamental Inc.) in February and they’ve been reviewing logistics in terms of infrastructure. Operations discussions are only just beginning. The next Economic Development and Tourism committee meeting will include a discussion on this topic.
It seems like all the basis are being covered. What is the deadline for the Board of Director Call for positions and how will it (the facility) be staffed?
These are discussions that we (the Town) plans to have at a Committee level. We hope and expect a decision sooner rather than later; seeking public input before decisions are made. We wanted to understand what the public wanted to see, who was still interested. At this time, we cannot confirm a solid timeline; next steps include conversation at Committee level, council approvals, staff work on logistics, post and share with the public, hiring of position, consideration for annual operating expense, budget. All of this and more requires review over the next couple of months.
For the staffing piece, we have reviewed a few models and openly invite your feedback about what your thoughts are.
A Board Structure was evaluated prior as well when the original concept for the History House was created. Other types of models are also being reviewed, (including) how much level of involvement from Council.
For reference, Admiralty House in Mount Pearl operates through an annual operating agreement through the City of Mount pearl with a, for lack of better words, memorandum of agreement, that outlines commitments by the town such as snow clearing, accounting services, etc. There is one permanent full-time staff member who reports to the Board, and up until very recently, a second person was hired due to the expansion of the museum to a second facility.
Where are the museum collections being stored now and how?
Currently, its (the collection) being stored within the facility on the second floor. There may be some additional in the garage building and, if so, nothing that would require environmental controlled setting such as appropriate heat/lighting.
The Museum also occupied 1-2 off site storage units at a storage unit facility.