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Ancaster heritage building faced with relocation despite visible cracks in the foundation

Members of the Ancaster community are actively fighting against relocation of one of the city’s last remaining historical buildings, driven by the fact that structures of this age are getting more and more rare.

An artist's rendition of the Marr-Phillipo house from when it was still used as a residential property.
An artist’s rendition of the Marr-Phillipo house in its original glory.

The Marr-Phillipo building was built almost 200 years ago and is one of the last heritage buildings still standing in Ancaster.

The building is currently owned by Wilson Street Ancaster Inc. and they hired Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects (GBCA) to assess the site in anticipation of new condos. They propose moving the Marr building to the back of the lot to allow for the condos to be built facing Wilson Street.

In an appeal to the Hamilton Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee, GBCA presented their Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA). “Due to existing site conditions, the proposed building relocation is considered a necessary intervention for the remediation of the site, and for the long-term conservation of the heritage resource,” the report said.

It recommended moving the Marr building to allow for decontamination of the neighbouring lot which used to be a gas station.

But critics say moving the building will mean far fewer people will see it.

“You’re pretty well pushing it off the grid as far as any kind of visibility in Ancaster at all unless you actually walk onto that property,” committee member Andy MacLaren said. “For such a prominent building in the area, I’m not sure I like the idea of just pushing it back.”

A photo of the south elevation corner of the Marr-Phillipo building shows open joints and repair work done.
The Marr-Phillipo building is constructed with stone from the neighbouring Niagara escarpment. Repairs have been done over the years as the stones in the four main weight-bearing walls continue to deteriorate. (Photo Credit: GBCA Architects)

Members Carol Priamo and Graham Carroll agreed with MacLaren, expressing their confusion as to why the Marr-Phillipo heritage building will no longer face Wilson Street.

“Putting [the building] in that back lot, it’s going to be subject to vandalism and tampering because it’s no longer a prominent building on the streetscape,” Carroll said. “Why can’t it be moved to another spot on Wilson?”

The Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee has yet to reach a final decision on the issue. Their next meeting will be live streamed on Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. on the city’s YouTube channel.

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