Her­itage des­ig­na­tion con­tem­plated

Packet & Times (Orillia) - - NEWS - AN­DREW PHILIPS

A down­town jewel will soon be rec­og­nized for its his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

Coun­cil com­mit­tee agreed with a staff re­port to place the for­mer Geneva The­atre on the city’ s Her­itage Reg­is­ter list for ‘un­des­ig­nated prop­er­ties of cul­tural value or in­ter­est.’

But coun­cil­lors, who will likely rat­ify the mo­tion at their meet­ing Mon­day evening, stopped short of pro­ceed­ing with a full des­ig­na­tion of the prop­erty through the prov­ince’s Her­itage Act.

Coun. Ted Emond, who chairs coun­cil com­mit­tee meet­ings, said that re­quest­ing the full des­ig­na­tion would have meant owner Don­ald Porter couldn’t con­tinue on the restora­tion work he has planned for the West Street build­ing ’s fa­cade. “If we des­ig­nated it now, we’re des­ig­nat­ing it in its cur­rent in­car­na­tion,” Emond said, not­ing that would have made it more com­pli­cated for Porter to con­tinue the restora­tion work he has planned over the next year.

“They are con­tem­plat­ing ren­o­va­tions to parts of the build­ing.”

Coun­cil­lors agreed with a Mu­nic­i­pal Her­itage Com­mit­tee rec­om­men­da­tion to seek the full her­itage des­ig­na­tion af­ter that work is com­pleted.

Porter said he’s happy with coun­cil’s move to be­gin the process of hav­ing the build­ing’s her­itage for­mally rec­og­nized.

“I’m not done yet,” said Porter, who plans to be­gin work next spring to repli­cate the build­ing’s orig­i­nal 1939 fa­cade.

That project, which could be com­pleted by the sum­mer, in­volves in­stalling five plate-glass win­dows, get­ting the box of­fice op­er­a­tional and pro­tect­ing the mar­quee.

As well, Porter said the the­atre has the only neon sign left in the city; some­thing he also wants to en­sure re­mains pro­tected.

Porter said that he’s re­cently spent $160,000 on in­te­rior im­prove­ments so he’s not cur­rently “sit­ting on a ton of money” to im­me­di­ately be­gin the fa­cade project.

AN­DREW PHILIPS/PACKET & TIMES FILE PHOTO

Don­ald Porter stands out­side the Geneva The­atre in the city's down­town core in this file photo. This week, coun­cil com­mit­tee agreed with a staff re­port to place the for­mer Geneva The­atre on the city's Her­itage Reg­is­ter list.

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