A Brief History of The Friends of Devereaux

The Town of Halton Hills has owned the Devereaux property since 1999. It sits on a corner of land designated for a future community cemetery and a large sport complex of playing fields. In December 2004, at the request of Heritage Halton Hills and the Esquesing Historical Society, the Town of Halton Hills Council supported the tendering of a proposal "to secure and maintain the site to prevent further deterioration of the house/site with the understanding that the funding of the works would be explored at a future date." A citizens' committee, "The Friends of Devereaux House," operating initially under the umbrella of the Esquesing Historical Society, formed in January 2005 to develop a strategy to secure, preserve and maintain the Devereaux farmhouse as a public rural heritage property for the use, education and enjoyment of Halton Hills residents. To that end, the Committee sought, and continues to seek, community partnerships, grant monies and individual contributions. To date the Friends have:

  1. raised $25,000 in public donations, largely the result of a hugely successful antique auction and dinner, held at the end of 2005
  2. secured a partnership with, and pledge of $45,000 from, the Georgetown Soccer Club, our tenant in the office space planned for the second floor of the farmhouse
  3. been awarded a Trillium Foundation Grant of $100,000
  4. with the help of Halton Hills Hydro, secured a grant through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities of up to $34,000 for the incorporation of sustainable energy options in the restoration plans, and
  5. secured a 10 year lease agreement from the Town and the further commitment of $60,000, equivalent to the projected cost of demolition.

The Friends are more than a fundraising body. They are active in all aspects of the project. We invite you to explore the website and contact individuals for further information or for ways to become involved.

 

AGM Report

Report by the Chair, Ann Lawlor at the 1st Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Devereaux held Feb. 28th 2007

I know that there is a great deal of support for preserving Devereaux House in the community and it is important for the community.

The preservation of this historic 19th century building squarely conforms with the 2006 Town of Halton Hills Official Plan goal: "To identify, conserve and enhance the Town's cultural heritage resources and promote their value and benefit to the community."
It is also important for our community since the Halton Hills landscape is changing. The farms have been sold, and solid urban development from Georgetown to the 401 is around the corner. You know that unless some of our rural heritage buildings and landscapes are saved, then Halton Hills will be virtually indistinguishable from Brampton and Mississauga.

Preserving Devereaux House is helping to preserve something of the character of our Town. It is helping to maintain our identity - what makes us interesting and different.
The preservation of Devereaux House is also sound since it will become a highly visible, attractive and well-used community facility. With its prominent location on Trafalgar Road, it will house the Georgetown Soccer Club as an anchor tenant on the 2nd floor. The decorated ground floor will offer a charming heritage reception room and kitchen. It will be a busy spot where people can feel and touch the history as they go about their other affairs.

The preservation of Devereaux House and property is securely planned over the long term. The lease with the Friends is 5 years with a 5 year renewal. After that 10 year period, the cemetery immediately adjacent to the house will be developed. The building use will be reassessed at that time and the lease may be extended, or, there may be a need for cemetery administrative functions in the building.

Regardless, Devereaux House will become the signature for the property. And what could be better - a heritage building as the centerpiece of a community cemetery?
Devereaux House will, throughout our lifetimes, serve as a link to our past while functioning as a busy and attractive public building.

Most of you will remember that 2 years ago we started on this journey with only a dream.
Since our exciting antique auction which raised abut $20,000, and our founding meeting just over a year ago, the Friends of the Devereaux House have cemented plans for renovation of the house with receipt of $100,000 from the Trillium Foundation.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we received a pledge of $60,000 from the Town. Add to this an additional $10,000 (virtually unsolicited) in pledges in kind, and our total to date is about $245,000.

With a construction budget in the range of $300,000, we are very confident in the project's viability. We have not even begun to ask the community for assistance.
In addition to making money, we have also made some very good friends in our research and work on the house. Two of those friends are prominent heritage architects who have visited the house and urged us to not only restore the exterior, but also the interior. They have pointed out features of this property which are rare and valuable. One of these architects, by the way, counts among his projects the National Ballet School renovation, Rideau Hall, the Canadian Parliament Buildings, Fort York, etc, etc. The other has founded a school of restoration arts in Queenston. Talking to them was like a scene from the Antiques Roadshow - we didn't know what a treasure we had. Without question, Devereaux House should be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, and we have asked Heritage Halton Hills to begin the process.


Our next steps, then, are to:

  • receive proposals from interested architectural firms
  • continue our heritage research through the School of Restoration Arts, which is committed to using the house as a workshop in conjunction with curriculum.
  • proceed with drawings
  • final costing and develop our wish list
  • solicit further donations - cash & kind for construction which will be undertaken by a combination of trades and volunteers
  • more community involvement
  • construction - June commencement
  • and finally, Soccer move-in in late fall.
Other initiatives which are underway or planned include:
  • student employment grant to help Sandy Mackenzie and the construction committee oversee construction
  • Healthy Communities grant from Halton Region, the next phase, perhaps furnishings, and further partnerships
  • Going Green - $34,000 has been committed from the Green Municipal Fund to build in special conservation measures.

Thank you for your continued interest and participation.

 

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