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Wolfe Island residents rally to protect house from demolition

MARYSVILLE — Heritage conservationists on Wolfe Island are stepping up their calls for a delay in the planned demolition of one of Marysville‘s oldest houses.

The house at 1208 Main St. is to be torn down by the end of September to make way for construction of a new ferry terminal.

But members of the island’s historical society and their supporters, more than two dozen of whom gathered outside the house Friday morning, want the house preserved.

Wolfe Island Historical Society president Kimberly Thomas said the plans for the new ferry dock, including artist renderings, showed the house would remain in place.

“A lot of people in the community thought the house would still be standing because of the photos,” she said.

“We want to stop the demolition and have a conversation. I don’t know what the next step is. If the next step is that the house has to come down for the dock to proceed, I don’t know how many of these people who showed up here today would look at it differently.”

The group plans a rally at the house on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

Thomas said she hopes the demolition can be delayed until the community has a chance to express to the Ministry of Transportation that there is interest in saving it.

“The MTO is not in the business of keeping houses. They just don’t have the staff or funds to finance it. I just don’t think it was brought to their attention that there is community will to keep it,” she said.

“From what I’ve been told by the professional architects and the engineers and the people who are appraisers, and these are people who are in the business, all the plans show is that they need some of the land but not the land the house sits on.”

The ministry said a heritage impact assessment of the house was done about a year ago, and while it was deemed to have cultural heritage value of local significance or interest, it did not meet the requirements for designation as a provincial heritage property of provincial significance.

“The architect we spoke to says it does because it’s significant to this community, it’s a very unusual house for this community,” Thomas said.

The house is an American Foursquare design, which was popular between the late 1890s and the late 1930s. It was considered a reaction to ornate Victorian designs and, as such, was relatively plain in appearance.

Thomas said the house was built around the turn of the last century, and its design incorporates handcrafted woodwork inside that is considered to have improved on the original boxy design and features wood from Douglas Fir trees inside.

“I think the house could stay,” Hank Connell, one of the founding members of the historical society, said.“It is significant.

“If you take a look at the type of architecture we have around here, it’s coming out of the ’20s and ’30s and it’s worth restoration. At the time, people put buildings up because they needed accommodation. This one seems to be a bit more substantial.”

Connell said turning the house over for community use would help foster tourism on the island.