New life for his­toric build­ing

Robert­son build­ing in Bar­ring­ton Pas­sage un­der­go­ing ren­o­va­tion

Tri-County Vanguard - - THEN AND NOW - KATHY JOHN­SON THECOASTGUARD.CA

For 110 years, what is known as the Robert­son build­ing has stood stately on the cor­ner of High­way 3 and Sta­tion Road in the heart of Bar­ring­ton Pas­sage.

For the first 72 years (1909-1981) the build­ing op­er­ated as a bank, first for the Union Bank of Hal­i­fax, then in 1910 it be­came the Royal Bank of Canada af­ter that fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion ab­sorbed the Union Bank of Hal­i­fax. It re­mained an RBC branch un­til 1981, when a new more mod­ern branch was built on ad­ja­cent land.

The his­toric build­ing was gifted to the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Bar­ring­ton by the RBC, serv­ing as the lo­cal branch of the West­ern Coun­ties Re­gional Li­brary for many years, then as an adult learn­ing cen­tre for the Shel­burne County Learn­ing Net­work.

Declar­ing the build­ing sur­plus, the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Bar­ring­ton is­sued a re­quest for pro­pos­als to pur­chase the build­ing in 2017.

The op­por­tu­nity was not lost on Natasha Mood-Nick­er­son.

“It’s such a beau­ti­ful build­ing,” says Mood-Nick­er­son. “I wanted to keep it here for ev­ery­one to en­joy.”

Mood-Nick­er­son is ren­o­vat­ing the in­te­rior of the build­ing into the Salty Shores Inn and Café. Down­stairs will be the café, which should be up and run­ning by next spring.

“It will be a lunch spot,” says Mood-Nick­er­son. “The fo­cus will be nice cof­fees and a nice place to hang out, some­thing along the lines of Sip Café but not as big.”

Up­stairs are two mod­ern ho­tel rooms, with all the ameni­ties one would ex­pect to find while trav­el­ling. Mood-Nick­er­son hopes to have the inn op­er­at­ing by the end of the year.

“I def­i­nitely see a need. A lot of busi­ness peo­ple come through here and end up hav­ing to stay in Shel­burne or Yar­mouth,” she says.

“Dur­ing the lob­ster sea­son a lot of peo­ple come through here: buy­ers and sell­ers. I’ve al­ready had re­quests. The area has a lot to of­fer,” she says, not­ing it is a cen­tral lo­ca­tion in the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Bar­ring­ton and in the Bar­ring­ton Pas­sage busi­ness dis­trict, close to the multi-pur­pose trail, shop­ping and ser­vices.

Mood-Nick­er­son has tried to keep as many orig­i­nal el­e­ments of the build­ing as she can through the ren­o­va­tion process. The bank vault is be­ing ren­o­vated into a walk-in re­frig­er­a­tor. The unique, up­per­floor tri­an­gle win­dows have been pre­served, as have the first-floor win­dows, which were cov­ered over with alu­minum storm win­dows for many years.

“As soon as we took them off the build­ing had new life again,” says Mood-Nick­er­son.

New win­dows that open had to be in­stalled on the front of the build­ing up­stairs to meet the fire code stan­dards. The stair­way spin­dles were also not up to code so are be­ing re­placed and in­cor­po­rated into the his­toric rail­ing.

“It’s a very well-built build­ing,” says Mood-Nick­er­son. “There’s no creaks,” she says, adding con­trac­tors de­ter­mined the walls of the build­ing are three bricks thick.

As for changes to the ex­te­rior, the up­stairs fire es­cape was moved back a few feet into what is now the hall­way for the inn, and two small or­nate rect­an­gu­lar win­dows that were lo­cated on the back of the build­ing now pro­vide light on the side of the build­ing into one of the ho­tel rooms.

Mood-Nick­er­son said she al­ways en­joyed go­ing to the Robert­son build­ing when it was a li­brary.

“We just don’t have all the his­tory in the area any­more. All the nice old build­ings have been ren­o­vated into big­ger build­ings,” she says.

HIS­TORIC PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE CAPE SABLE HIS­TOR­I­CAL SO­CI­ETY. PRESENT-DAY PHOTO BY KATHY JOHN­SON

The his­toric Robert­son build­ing still stands stately on the cor­ner of High­way 3 and Sta­tion Road in the heart of Bar­ring­ton Pas­sage as it has for 110 years.

HIS­TORIC PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE CAPE SABLE HIS­TOR­I­CAL SO­CI­ETY. PRESENT-DAY PHOTO BY KATHY JOHN­SON

Bar­ring­ton Pas­sage back in the day and now. The blue house in the right of the present-day photo is the Her­bert R. Banks House, also known as the Robert­son House. It would have been stand­ing when the his­toric photo was taken but wasn’t in the frame. Also still stand­ing in the dis­tance are the Robert­son build­ing, what has been the Weeks’ home for many years, and the Angli­can Church.

HIS­TORIC PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE CAPE SABLE HIS­TOR­I­CAL SO­CI­ETY. PRESENT-DAY PHOTO BY KATHY JOHN­SON

The Robert­son build­ing in the dis­tance on the left and the house are about the only sim­i­lar­i­ties in these two Bar­ring­ton Pas­sage streetscapes.

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