Thamesville property loses heritage listing

Vacant property at 68 London Road in Thamesville (Photo courtesy Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

While one building in Chatham-Kent is losing its listing as a heritage property, another one is gaining it.

On Monday night, council voted unanimously in favour of removing the property located at 68 London Rd. in Thamesville from the Chatham-Kent Municipal Heritage Register.

The 150-year-old building, most recently known as Haymes Variety, was added to the register in 2010 because of its cultural significance. However, it has since become vacant and is currently in such bad shape the municipality considers it a hazard to public safety and, after a failed attempt to have the owner renovate it, is planning to order that it be torn down.  To speed up the “order to demolish” process, municipal staff recommended that the property be stripped of its heritage listing.

Councillor Anthony Ceccacci asked the councillors representing the Thamesville area if they had heard any feedback from the residents as to what should be done with the building, which the municipality described as once being a vibrant business location. Councillor Steve Pinsonneault said that the state of the building has become so bad, it is past the point of being able to salvage it.

“The residents, especially the merchants on the main street and the residents that walk down the main street, they’re quite upset, they look at the municipality as not doing anything about this, we’re not forcing [the business owner] to fix it,” explained Pinsonneault. “We’re just at a point where this is the last option left. Like I said, there’s a couple of residents that don’t want to see it come down but most of them are ready to move on.”

The demolishment will be at the cost of the current property owner.

Meanwhile, council voted in favour of adding a new property to the Municipal Heritage Register.

Prince Albert Baptist Church/ Municipality of Chatham-Kent

Prince Albert Baptist Church/ Municipality of Chatham-Kent

In the community of Chatham Township, Prince Albert Baptist Church located at 9388 Cedar Hedge Line has received its designation. The church was built around 1915 and is being recognized for its connections to several milestones in history.

“The Prince Albert Baptist Church property… has a historic association with Reverend Jennie Johnson, a champion for racial and gender equality and the first Canadian-born ordained female minister to serve in Canada,” stated a municipal report.

It is also one of the only surviving structures associated with the pre-Civil War Chatham Township black settlement.