By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Ancaster’s newest hotel is on schedule to be completed in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Bob Wilkins, who is also chair of the Ancaster Heritage Business Improvement Area, and his business partner Bill Walker are renovating the building at 423-425 Wilson St. into a 19-suite boutique hotel that will be called the Barracks Inn.
Wilkins said there had been some design and preservation obstacles they have had to overcome since construction began late in 2013 on the historical building.
Wilkins said they received the final building permit only recently for the structure, as they soldier on to renovate the 18th century structure that some people believe was used as a barracks during the War of 1812.
“We are doing the best we can to preserve as much of the building structure,” said Wilkins.
“There has been a lot of support work that needed to be completed. We’ve had some problems, but we have overcome them.”
He said, for instance, they decided to remove the whole roof after discovering it was deteriorating. Some of the original beams and stone work managed to be preserved, said Wilkins.
“We had to put in a new ceiling,” he said.
Wilkins has declined to say how much money is being invested into the structure, saying only that it is “significant,” but worthwhile.
Part of the renovation design involves constructing a new one-and-a-half-storey addition on top of the concrete block building that was added to the structure in the 1960s.
Wilkins said they want to get as much of the restoration work completed, including the installation of the windows, by October.
“We want to get most of the outside work done before the cold winter sets in,” he said.
The original building was used as a drug store from 1835-68 before it was consumed by fire. The building was resurrected and over the ensuing years had been occupied by a car dealership, body shop, a tool and die business and apartments.
When work started on the structure, crews began cleaning up some rubbish out back from a fire in 1940 and discovered a stone that had been laid in 1851. Wilkins has incorporated it into a cornerstone for the building.
Wilkins did apply for three building permits for the structure, including one for a large porch that would run the length of the second floor.
“(The workers) are doing a really fabulous job,” said Wilkins, who has fought to preserve as much of Ancaster’s history as possible, including its heritage buildings. “It’s exciting to see everything coming together. There are a lot of good things happening.”
Wilkins said the original completion date of the spring of 2015 remains the target for the opening of the hotel, in time for the Pan Am Games that are scheduled to begin in July.
“It should get more exciting as the building takes shape,” he said.