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Soon gone but not forgotten in Anmore

Disappointment as home of pioneering Ma Murray won't be part of new village centre plan, but village says building's demolition necessary
Ma Murray home
Ma Murray home, formerly the Anmore village hall, will be knocked down in the coming weeks to make way for a new village centre.

The 100-year-old homestead of iconic B.C. newspaper woman Ma Murray will be demolished in the coming weeks but some mementoes — papers, machinery and stained glass from the building — are being saved and put into storage.

It's a bittersweet legacy for the Anmore Heritage Society, which tried to save the shingled building that had been used as a village hall but the group is still disappointed, say members Lynn Burton and Joerge Dyrkton.

"It's extremely said that the Ma Murray homestead is being demolished," said Burton, whose group came up with a plan to save the building and partnered with the village of Anmore to secure a $25,000 BC 150 grant to save the artifacts.

"That's the good news in the story," Burton told The Tri-City News, "We did get the $25,000 grant for them but I wish the commitment had been stronger because the energy from the community to try and save it was huge."

Anmore Mayor John McEwen said the group's efforts are appreciated but the building was too far gone to save, with recent asbestos and drywall removal confirming that the building — which formerly housed pioneer Margaret Murray and her family, and, later, the village council offices — was deteriorating.

"The building was in far worse shape then we even thought," McEwen said.

Once the building is removed, the village can work on constructing its village centre, which will be done over several stages.

The plan is to reroute some existing roads and unite three parcels into a 4.8-acre area, upgrade the existing Spirit Park with proper drainage, add electrical and sprinklers, and realign the play area and, possibly, add to it.

A natural amphitheatre and, eventually, a new village building will be built but McEwen said more work has to go in to identifying the phases, costs and funding sources, with a request for proposals being sent out in the next two months.

In the meantime, he said, an archivist has sorted through the Ma Murray materials and they will be placed in a container and put into heated storage.

"We're hopefully going to replicate some tribute to the Murray family and house in a new building. We also had it extensively photographed and video-ed. We can hopefully pass that on to the architects."
Burton said her group was expecting to have a look at the materials to see what had been saved and hopes it will be invited to view the archival materials before they go into storage.

She and Dyrkton are worried the items won't be enough to truly portray the importance of Ma Murray to the community as much as a saving the building would have.

"You need the physical trace to represent the history," Dyrkton said. "That’s something the village council seem to have missed."

• Village of Anmore invites members of the public to attend an Open House regarding the Village Centre Site Development Plan on Tues, Jan 23 at 6pm (prior to Regular Council Mtg scheduled at 7 p.m.) More info here,