Restoring Hamilton’s historic Auchmar Estate one stone at a time

News May 19, 2017 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

The $270,000 Canada 150 funding to help restore the Auchmar Estate’s garden wall is welcome news, but it follows a funding pattern that isn’t sustainable, says Hamilton’s west Mountain councillor.

Terry Whitehead, who represents the area where Auchmar is located on Fennell Avenue, applauded the $273,000 the federal government is providing to the site, one of 12 projects that are receiving needed money. However, the ideal is to get the majority of the historic property’s operational and maintenance costs off the backs of taxpayers, he said.

The city has invested over $2 million in improvements since it was acquired in 1999.

Hamilton heritage staff stated in a January 2016 report it will cost about $8 million in capital funding to renovate Auchmar in order to make it suitable for public and private use. Money is needed to install air conditioning, improve the coach house interior, install fire safety measures, and make sure the facility meets Ontario’s accessibility standards.

“We want a plan that completely lets taxpayers off the hook,” says Whitehead. “No plan may completely do that. But at least take up all the operating and maintenance costs around the property, which is a high bar.”

The garden wall project, which has already been awarded to a contractor, is expected to begin soon with a completion date of November 2017 before the frost begins, says Carolyn Samko, senior project manager of heritage.

“We’d like to have it open to the public,” said Samko. “The aim is to eventually have a garden.”

The project, which began in 2014 with a budget of about $817,000 to install a new foundation, surrounds the coach house and the dove cote. The idea is to eventually re-create the garden area that Isaac Buchanan had when he built Auchmar in the 19th century.

The 73-metre large stone wall had to be rebuilt because of its deterioration. Restorers were using mostly the stones from the original structure in the project. Concrete buttresses had to be installed at some points along the wall and parts of the structure are being held together through a series of stainless steel pins.

“Every little bit helps,” said Samko, referring to the federal investment. “(The garden wall) is significant.”

Over the last eight years, the city has invested thousands of dollars into slowly restoring Buchanan’s legacy. In 2015, among other work, the city spent $380,000 restoring the bay windows, while also re-roofing the main structure and replacing the eavestrough, and in 2016 the entire exterior of the building was painted a cream colour, and stucco work was done to repair cracks.

Almost a year ago, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry made a $14-million proposal to councillors to operate Auchmar that would include creating a museum, brew pub, an education centre, and a chapel, while also allowing public access to the 3.76-hectare grounds. The infantry officials had also proposed opening up Auchmar this July to help celebrate Canada’s birthday.

Regimental officials said their funding would come from various government funds and local benefactors.

City officials did request the regiment provide them with a business plan.

Whitehead said it’s been nearly a year since the regiment provided its idea to the city. He expects a report by staff will be presented to councillors next month on a possible plan B if the organization can’t fulfil its financial proposals.

Restoring Hamilton’s historic Auchmar Estate one stone at a time

News May 19, 2017 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

The $270,000 Canada 150 funding to help restore the Auchmar Estate’s garden wall is welcome news, but it follows a funding pattern that isn’t sustainable, says Hamilton’s west Mountain councillor.

Terry Whitehead, who represents the area where Auchmar is located on Fennell Avenue, applauded the $273,000 the federal government is providing to the site, one of 12 projects that are receiving needed money. However, the ideal is to get the majority of the historic property’s operational and maintenance costs off the backs of taxpayers, he said.

The city has invested over $2 million in improvements since it was acquired in 1999.

Hamilton heritage staff stated in a January 2016 report it will cost about $8 million in capital funding to renovate Auchmar in order to make it suitable for public and private use. Money is needed to install air conditioning, improve the coach house interior, install fire safety measures, and make sure the facility meets Ontario’s accessibility standards.

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“We want a plan that completely lets taxpayers off the hook,” says Whitehead. “No plan may completely do that. But at least take up all the operating and maintenance costs around the property, which is a high bar.”

The garden wall project, which has already been awarded to a contractor, is expected to begin soon with a completion date of November 2017 before the frost begins, says Carolyn Samko, senior project manager of heritage.

“We’d like to have it open to the public,” said Samko. “The aim is to eventually have a garden.”

The project, which began in 2014 with a budget of about $817,000 to install a new foundation, surrounds the coach house and the dove cote. The idea is to eventually re-create the garden area that Isaac Buchanan had when he built Auchmar in the 19th century.

The 73-metre large stone wall had to be rebuilt because of its deterioration. Restorers were using mostly the stones from the original structure in the project. Concrete buttresses had to be installed at some points along the wall and parts of the structure are being held together through a series of stainless steel pins.

“Every little bit helps,” said Samko, referring to the federal investment. “(The garden wall) is significant.”

Over the last eight years, the city has invested thousands of dollars into slowly restoring Buchanan’s legacy. In 2015, among other work, the city spent $380,000 restoring the bay windows, while also re-roofing the main structure and replacing the eavestrough, and in 2016 the entire exterior of the building was painted a cream colour, and stucco work was done to repair cracks.

Almost a year ago, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry made a $14-million proposal to councillors to operate Auchmar that would include creating a museum, brew pub, an education centre, and a chapel, while also allowing public access to the 3.76-hectare grounds. The infantry officials had also proposed opening up Auchmar this July to help celebrate Canada’s birthday.

Regimental officials said their funding would come from various government funds and local benefactors.

City officials did request the regiment provide them with a business plan.

Whitehead said it’s been nearly a year since the regiment provided its idea to the city. He expects a report by staff will be presented to councillors next month on a possible plan B if the organization can’t fulfil its financial proposals.

Restoring Hamilton’s historic Auchmar Estate one stone at a time

News May 19, 2017 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

The $270,000 Canada 150 funding to help restore the Auchmar Estate’s garden wall is welcome news, but it follows a funding pattern that isn’t sustainable, says Hamilton’s west Mountain councillor.

Terry Whitehead, who represents the area where Auchmar is located on Fennell Avenue, applauded the $273,000 the federal government is providing to the site, one of 12 projects that are receiving needed money. However, the ideal is to get the majority of the historic property’s operational and maintenance costs off the backs of taxpayers, he said.

The city has invested over $2 million in improvements since it was acquired in 1999.

Hamilton heritage staff stated in a January 2016 report it will cost about $8 million in capital funding to renovate Auchmar in order to make it suitable for public and private use. Money is needed to install air conditioning, improve the coach house interior, install fire safety measures, and make sure the facility meets Ontario’s accessibility standards.

Related Content

“We want a plan that completely lets taxpayers off the hook,” says Whitehead. “No plan may completely do that. But at least take up all the operating and maintenance costs around the property, which is a high bar.”

The garden wall project, which has already been awarded to a contractor, is expected to begin soon with a completion date of November 2017 before the frost begins, says Carolyn Samko, senior project manager of heritage.

“We’d like to have it open to the public,” said Samko. “The aim is to eventually have a garden.”

The project, which began in 2014 with a budget of about $817,000 to install a new foundation, surrounds the coach house and the dove cote. The idea is to eventually re-create the garden area that Isaac Buchanan had when he built Auchmar in the 19th century.

The 73-metre large stone wall had to be rebuilt because of its deterioration. Restorers were using mostly the stones from the original structure in the project. Concrete buttresses had to be installed at some points along the wall and parts of the structure are being held together through a series of stainless steel pins.

“Every little bit helps,” said Samko, referring to the federal investment. “(The garden wall) is significant.”

Over the last eight years, the city has invested thousands of dollars into slowly restoring Buchanan’s legacy. In 2015, among other work, the city spent $380,000 restoring the bay windows, while also re-roofing the main structure and replacing the eavestrough, and in 2016 the entire exterior of the building was painted a cream colour, and stucco work was done to repair cracks.

Almost a year ago, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry made a $14-million proposal to councillors to operate Auchmar that would include creating a museum, brew pub, an education centre, and a chapel, while also allowing public access to the 3.76-hectare grounds. The infantry officials had also proposed opening up Auchmar this July to help celebrate Canada’s birthday.

Regimental officials said their funding would come from various government funds and local benefactors.

City officials did request the regiment provide them with a business plan.

Whitehead said it’s been nearly a year since the regiment provided its idea to the city. He expects a report by staff will be presented to councillors next month on a possible plan B if the organization can’t fulfil its financial proposals.