A 1950s-era building next to the St. Matthew’s Anglican Church on Lakelese Avenue is under demolition this week.
Boarded up and inactive since January, Bishop of Caledonia David Lehmann says property owner, the Diocese of Caledonia, had the option to either finance major upgrades and renovate the building or tear it down. The diocese has owned the property since the 1980s.
“Trying to adapt the space was a bit difficult because of its design and layout,” says Lehmann. “Our option at this point was to bring it down and then look at a new option down the road.”
Contracted crews began removing all the asbestos in the walls a few weeks ago in preparation for demolition, which began on Tuesday, Aug. 13. Once the entire building is down, Lehmann says grass will be planted on the property to turn it into a lawn until another use is identified.
“It’s always sad to see a building come down. We checked to make sure it did not hold any items of historical significance before we opted to bring it down, but everything has a season. For this building, its time was up, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of that space next.”
The property has served many purposes throughout its life. It has functioned as a government building, courthouse, and meeting place for the community. It was last carved up into a series of classrooms, small kitchen and general meeting space to be repurposed as a private Christian school.
Before this year, Lehmann says the building was actively used by various local organizations for meetings and programming.
Norman and Linda Frank were walking down Clinton St. when they saw the excavator tear into the second floor of the building. As they watched, Linda pointed to some furniture left in the debris and asked her husband if he recognized the items.
“Just before it closed as a government building my wife and I went to the courthouse area in there and we actually got married [in 1981]. We were probably the last ones to get married in this building,” Norm says.
While they were sad to see it go, the couple says they recognize the building had come to the end of its lifespan. For now, they’ll reminisce on pleasant past memories.