Sorry for the long delay, but was sick for the past few days.
The issue facing the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) is whether they are going to step up to the plate and protect designated heritage buildings that speak to a time when Ancaster was known for its mineral waters.
Despite the significant decay of the structure, the Hermitage still sparks the imagination of visitors for a time when we were connected to the land and the seasons. Over the past two months, I have made several drawings (session 1, session 2) of the building over 2-3 hour sittings, and dozens of individuals and groups have told me how much they love the place.
What the HCA is proposing is the demolition of a heritage site that they are responsible for maintaining. A four foot wall does not save any of the designated architectural features. The only reason they are willing save a four foot wall is the cost to demolish completely the building is about the same.
The only thing more outrageous than the HCA proposal is the Heritage Permit Review Sub-committee willingness even to consider their application. The committee’s job is to protect designated heritage buildings, not to ease their path to destruction.
There was very little discussion about how the HCA should change their plans so that Georgian symmetry of the surviving building is preserved, nor saving the remains of second floor Italianate windows, or French windows below that once allowed access to a long gone veranda; nor saving the surviving ring beam that was once supported by corbels.
It appears that the only people on the committee who seem understand the purpose of the committee is to save heritage is Joseph Zidanic and Rebecca Beatty. Mr. Zidanic was particularly effective in pointing out that the HCA has owned the property since 1972 and commissioned many reports over the past 40 years, but they have done little more than quick fixes.
It times for the HCA to set up to plate and start properly taking care of the Hermitage; even if the Board doesn’t consider it part of their strategic mission of watershed management.
(The above comments were first published on the Raise the Hammer website).