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No reprieve for Nolan house, slated to go down in flames

Posted October 3, 2017

The Nolan house built in circa 1850, located in the Tottenham Conservation Area and linked to the former village's first reeve, George Nolan, is not worth saving New Tecumseth councillors voted last night meaning its demolition by fire will proceed as scheduled along with the former food bank building at 3 George St in Tottenham, and 56 Main Street in Beeton.

Council approved a $132,000 demolition contract to Maxx North America Group / Trisan General Contractors.

Nolan house is designated a New Tecumseth Heritage House. It is "significant because of the location (an early milling site) and its association with a founder of the village of Tottenham," according to the Town's Heritage House listing. Because of that designation, any demolition requires an advance 60-day notification to the Town.

The report to council related to the contract suggests "based on the interpretation of this requirement, it is noted that it has been satisfied with the submission of budget sheet #2017-121 authorizing the demolition of this building."

Ward 8 councillor Chris Ross questioned last night whether the notification was actually provided since the capital "budget sheet passed 11 months ago, doesn't note anywhere on the budget sheet that Nolan House was a significant property."

"I'd say we use that 60 days to find out if we have any kinds of grants, or anything out there that will help us repair this house since it is quite an old house, has much Tottenham heritage in it, I believe is 164 years old, and was lived in by Tottenham's first reeve," said councillor Ross. "So I'd like us to exhaust all avenues of funding before we burn it down."

Nolan house is slated to be torn down by controlled burn as part of a firefighting training exercise.

Ward 5 councillor Donna Jebb, a former member of the heritage advisory committee, said she can't understand why the house was ever desiginated because of its condition.

"We talked about recognizing it like how we put a plaque in at Beeton Park recognizing DA Jones and Kate Aitkens," she said. We talked about something like that to recognize the importance of that property. And I don't know why it was put on the significant property list. It's significant, the property, but the building itself is beyond repairs."

"I'm in full agreement with you," replied Councillor Ross. "When I saw the building there last summer, the chimney's falling down, I think it's very dangerous. Unfortunately, I didn't know it was a significant building until recently, and I'd like us to use that 60 days to find out if there's any way to secure some funding, like we did with the water tower. "That's all I'm asking for. If not, I'm sure the Tottenham firefighters will be able to put it to good use for training."

Ward 7 councillor Shira Harrison McIntyre, who chairs the heritage committee, was asked whether they were presented with cost estimates or what it would take to renovate it.

"I haven't been inside the building, and I'm not a structural engineer," said councillor Harrison McIntyre, relying on "other people who are experts, have looked at this many times over, and their expert opinion is that it's not salvagable, I would defer to their opinion."

Asked this morning by Free Press Online about the "expert opinion," she said, " I'm trying to track the reports down for you. When I get the report or minutes I will forward to you."

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri