Heritage landmark comes down in Anmore

A century-old home in Anmore where a B.C. newspaper pioneer lived was demolished this week despite numerous efforts to save the historical building.

Lynn Burton, interim chair of the Anmore Heritage Society, a group that was formed to preserve Margaret “Ma” Murray’s home, told The Tri-City News this morning she is distraught with council’s decision to tear down the only heritage structure in the village on Tuesday; it had been formerly used as the municipal hall, starting in 1988.

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“It’s really, really sad,” she said. “We did a ton of work and the community rallied to save it because it was such a wonderful connection to local history but, in the end, it just fell apart.”

Juli Halliwell, the village chief administrative officer and financial officer, said artifacts from the homestead — as well as other items from the former village hall — are now being catalogued by a temporary employee thanks to a $25,000 BC/Canada 150 grant that the society applied for on the village’s behalf.

The larger items such as the typesetter, newel post, panelling, cabinet, fireplace mantel, a stained glass window and another original window are being stored in a Port Kells warehouse for the time being.

“The intent is to display these items in the new village hall when it is constructed,” Halliwell said, noting other items like some beams from the front of the house and concrete with markings of hand prints and writing are being safeguarded in a container.

A catalogue, including photos, of the artifacts will be available for public viewing once the project is complete, Halliwell said.

Society spokesperson Joerge Dyrkton said Heritage BC played a major role in trying to save the 101-year-old homestead. It helped the group as it submitted a 265-page proposal to the federal government to restore the home; an architect was also deployed.

But Burton said because the society was young and had not established itself nor had a financial history — and Heritage BC is chartered only in this the province — it wasn’t eligible for the $500,000 renovation grant unless the village council was the applicant.

Two weeks before last September’s deadline, council did an about-face after five years of study and voted not to submit the grant application due to the scope of the project and lack of funds; attempts to move the civic building to private property also failed.

“As commented from many residents, a sad day yet an opportunity for a rebirth,” Mayor John McEwen stated in a press release, issued Wednesday.

Responded Heritage BC executive director Paul Gravett, “I met many people who not only saw in Ma Murray house the story and pride of Anmore but they also recognized the house as a symbol of Anmore’s contribution to the provincial and national story…. Unfortunately, there is only one chance to conserve heritage. Once it is gone, it is gone forever and with it goes a piece of the story that defines the community.”

Ma Murray was a legendary newspaper editor, publisher and columnist, and the wife of publisher and BC MLA George Murray. Before her death in 1982, she was named an officer of the Order of Canada.

 

jcleugh@tricitynews.com

 

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