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Vacant Hantsport building being revived as heritage centre


Published on June 26, 2017

Judson Porter (left), Marg Johnston and Roy Bishop, all volunteers who helped make the new Hantsport Heritage Society’s new home a reality stand outside the new building.

©Colin Chisholm

A vacant building on Hantsport's Main Street is now bustling.

The Hantsport and Area Historical Society has been actively renovating the interior of the former Scotia Investments building at 50 Main Street, after purchasing it for $1.

Judson Porter, a member of the heritage society, said the idea to use the former financial building came from a separate citizens group that wanted to see vacant buildings in the community find a new use.

“In April of 2015, there was a group of citizens in the town that made a presentation to our society and had been looking at vacant buildings in town,” Porter said. “One of the topics that came up was a heritage centre.”

Two years later, the society took ownership in May 2017.

Marg Johnston shows off some of the society’s Hantsport Shamrock team uniforms on display.
Colin Chisholm

Prior to the move, the society was located in the upper floors of the historic Churchill House, which made it difficult to access for those with mobility issues. Storing a large quantity of artifacts was also a challenge.

The new location, once fully renovated, will be fully accessible, with the main displays and artifacts on the ground level.

Maintaining and renovating the new location comes with significant costs and a fundraising campaign is currently underway, with a target of $230,000.

The society has received financial assistance from the provincial and federal governments to employ summer students and other grants.

“The municipality (of West Hants) has been very supportive and we’re hoping for continued support down the road,” Porter added.

Preserving History

Roy Bishop, chairman of the heritage centre campaign, is thrilled with the new location and hopes it means the society has a more active role to play in the community.

“We’re all concerned that things, year by year, are disappearing, as citizens get older, and things vanish. Artifacts lose their meaning as younger people either forget or have never been told about their significance,” Bishop said.

“This building, especially where it’s located, makes it much more likely that people are going to say ‘I’ve got this thing, it’s no good to me, my kids don’t want it, but it’s important to Hantsport'. We’re very hopeful that we’ll see a lot of artifacts appear here.”

Bishop hopes the Heritage Centre will be a tourism boon to the community as well.

Porter concurred, saying bringing visitors to Hantsport can only benefit the small businesses in the area that rely on tourism dollars.

Hantsport Heritage Society members and people of the community gathered to check out the new facility in early June. The grand opening is expected in the fall.
Submitted

Marg Johnston, a member of the citizens’ group that suggested the heritage centre idea, said there will be a diverse number of displays available once the grand opening takes place, including exhibits on shipbuilding, the Hantsport Shamrocks baseball team and much more.

A genealogy index will also be offered to visitors interesting in looking into their past.

“I’ve received very positive feedback from people in general,” Johnston said. “I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount of interest people are showing.”

The public got their first taste of the heritage centre during an open house on June 7, which was attended by approximately 200 people.

The date of the grand opening isn’t known yet, but it will likely be at some point in the fall.