Donations right now are crucial to success
The race to round up votes and dollars for a significant cause will cross the finish line this Thursday at noon. It’s time for celebration, thanks and a final drive for additional donations.
For the past month, the Friends of Auchmar charitable organization has been immersed in This Place Matters, a crowdfunding initiative organized by the National Trust for Canada.
All in, 26 select project teams from across Canada are part of a friendly online competition to preserve and restore heritage properties.
Projects range from historic manor houses and monuments to a tech hub in Montreal and vintage roadside tavern near Stratford. Together, these properties form a treasury of one-of-a-kind assets that define our country on its 150th anniversary.
Our local project is the restoration of the dovecote at the Auchmar Estate near West 5th and Fennell Avenue West.
When the competition wraps up on Thursday, we expect to have raised approximately $5,000 coupled with votes that could put us in the running for additional monies from event organizers.
Put in perspective, we ran a solid race and will finish among the top teams in our class. We’re proud of our efforts as newcomers to online crowdfunding and have learned many lessons for future campaigns. And we’re thrilled to think how monies given by donors will be held in trust and applied to our project.
People and organizations across Canada are keen to reanimate Hamilton’s Auchmar Estate — a 10-acre, city-owned property built by the Honourable Isaac Buchanan in the 1850s. It features a host of special elements, including a Victorian dovecote once used to house pigeons and doves.
Overall, this is a large, multi-year restoration initiative that has been divided into small, manageable projects. Friends of Auchmar volunteers — in partnership with the City of Hamilton, Heritage Hamilton Foundation, Environment Hamilton and many others — are currently focused on the makeover of the Auchmar dovecote.
The dovecote, one of two known to remain in Ontario, is a unique 19th century jewel that must be saved for future generations. Picture a small stone structure topped with pointed gables and a distinctive finial. Our vision is to restore the dovecote and put it to new use as a focal point for gatherings, ceremonies and photography.
Combined with a community garden, the dovecote will be a signature ingredient of a fully restored Auchmar Estate that is open to the public and emblematic of Hamilton’s respect for its architectural heritage.
The dovecote project is important on its own. Yet it has a far more powerful meaning in the context of a larger story: the heritage restoration of the Auchmar Estate. When renewal work is complete in the coming years, the estate will be a major asset of local, regional and national significance. It is envisaged as the future home to several leading not-for-profit organizations committed to public service — including components of the storied Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) — and a place for learning, recreation, dining and special events.
Locally, the estate will be known as one of a few remaining heritage landmarks on Hamilton Mountain, a part of the city that has absorbed a large share of new growth over the years. In time, plans call for the Auchmar Estate to be connected to the neighbouring Century Manor Estate and Chedoke House to create a heritage precinct.
For us, the Auchmar Estate is a puzzle that needs to be painstakingly assembled, piece by piece. Our venture into crowdfunding has generated a targeted fund to help the dovecote find its place in the sun.
Time is running out to donate. Visit ThisPlaceMatters.ca and click on “fund” to donate and vote. Please act before noon on Thursday to make a difference.
Special thanks to Dr. Diane Dent, chair of Friends of Auchmar, for embracing This Place Matters, a national platform that has enabled Hamilton to showcase two homegrown projects: the dovecote and the façade restoration of the former Capitol Theatre in the Gore Park district.
We also acknowledge the support of the City of Hamilton, our social marketing team led by Leanne Pluthero, and each donor. Thank you.
Robin McKee is vice-chair of Friends of Auchmar. Visit FriendsofAuchmar.ca to learn more and get involved.