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Abbotsford’s oldest house in the running for $50,000 heritage restoration prize; online voting starts soon

145-year-old house one of four B.C. heritage sites shortlisted for national prize contest
The 145-year-old Turner House is the oldest home in Abbotsford and is in the running to win a $50,000 prize toward restoration costs. (B.C. Heritage photo)

The oldest house in Abbotsford needs your help.

The Turner House is one of four heritage sites in the province chosen as top 10 finalists in the National Trust’s Next Great Save competition. The winner will receive $50,000 toward restoration costs, and an online vote will declare the winner.

Renovations at the site began in the fall and are expected to take several years. The small building is 145 years old and is being restored in partnership by the City of Abbotsford and the Heritage Abbotsford Society (HAS).

They aren’t the only Fraser Valley heritage site project in the running, though. The Hope Station House was recently saved from demolition after an outpouring of support from locals and also heritage supporters across the province and country.

The other two B.C. sites in the running are the Duncan Train Station and the Rossland Drill Hall.

The public online vote will be held from Jan. 20 to Feb. 22 at The heritage site with the most votes becomes the Next Great Save and wins the $50,000 prize to be used to help save and revitalize the heritage place. The winner will be announced on Feb. 23.

A “Great Save” is a project that successfully adapts, retrofits, renews, or improves a heritage place in a way that extends its useful life, and more. The site says a winning project responds to new pressures and community needs such as climate change or affordable housing, reduces environmental impact, reflects diversity and inclusion of new voices and new stories, and/or offers experiences, education, and inspiration to many.

The writeup for the Turner House in the contest makes an appeal based on energy efficiency and a feeling of ownership. It is also an important future hub for Clayburn Park.

“Did you know that historic buildings have a smaller carbon footprint than new buildings?” the writeup says. “A restored historic building is more energy-efficient, and produces less waste, making them even greener options than an unrestored historic building.”

HAS entered the competition “in the hopes of promoting environmental greening through preservation… People from all parts of what is now Abbotsford helped construct the house, and we should all feel ownership of this culturally important place.”

The prize money would cover the cost of the materials and local labor to create a community facility where HAS would offer “red-listed heritage crafts and skills” lessons and to the community, including lectures, workshops, interactive activities and field trips.

“This is public archeology and UNDRIP in action,” it says.

The former home of George Turner – a Royal Engineer who helped plan out and survey the Lower Mainland in the latter half of the 19th century – was moved to the park in 2018 from Matsqui Prairie. At that time, it was wrapped and protected until a restoration plan could be developed and funded.

The City of Abbotsford is looking at a larger plan for Clayburn Park in the coming years where Turner House is expected to play a central role.

Rounding out the top 10 in the contest are the Hudgin Log House in Milford, Ont.; Forward House in Iroquois, Ont.; La Vieille Maison in Meteghan, N.S.; St. John’s Stone Church in St. John, N.B.; and The Old Council House in Hagersville, Ont.

READ MORE: Restoration work to begin on 145-year-old Turner House in Abbotsford

READ MORE: Hope Station House one of 10 finalists in $50,000 “Next Great Save” competition

– with files from Vikki Hopes

Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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