Our first love in photography here on Vancouver Island will always be our heritage architecture. These wonderful old buildings not only form the foundation for the history of modern colonization on the island, they are also character-rich buildings that help form the feel and spirit of our cities. As progress marches on and we see more of these buildings fall to make way for modern multifamily dwellings, our level of concern rises. How can we achieve the important task of development on the island at the same time that we work hard on preserving our links to our past? In some cases re-purposing is the key to this challenge, and today’s post shares one such story of an important heritage church.
Let us take this opportunity to introduce you to something special. This is Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, situated in the city of Comox on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. Originally built in 1886 as colonization was taking place, it was the victim of a rather nasty storm two years after construction that required it to be rebuilt. This is the result of those efforts.
We see a lot of this style structure on Vancouver Island, particularly in buildings constructed in the mid 19th century. The quaint and lovely structures convey the character that has since become part of the Island that we know and love so well. So you can imagine our surprise when we came across this church… with a for sale sign in the front yard.
These photographs were all captured in the spring of 2012. As the months ticked by and I looked forward to blogging and sharing this story, my sense of curiosity became more pronounced. Was it still for sale? If not, who bought it and what are the plans? All too often with stories like this we find that the building is either in such poor condition that refurbishment is not financially possible, or the return on investment would not be great enough to warrant the efforts. Scary when you think about the pace that our heritage is disappearing at. Is everyone counting on good records and quality photographs to maintain this link to our past moving forward? That’s a bit of frightening concept to us.
It might be neglected and weathered, but it sure does appear to us that all hope is not lost for this wonderful facility. No gaping holes were evident in the roof and no obvious structural damage was evident. What could be done to bring this piece of history forward for the community to enjoy for many years to come?
So I am sure you can imagine my delight this morning while I was researching the church for our post today to discover that it had been recently bought. The Comox Valley Record shared a story discussing this purchase and the proposition on the table currently for the plans. We’re absolutely thrilled to discover a local community member, Kelly Pound, has purchased the church and is working hard to renovate it and ready it to become a new community arts center.
The lack of maintenance and care over the past several years have taken its toll on the building, and Kelly states in the article that extensive renovations are required. We certainly wish her luck with this wonderful project and are very much looking forward to seeing it come to fruition. I can honestly say that if it does indeed open as an arts center, Mrs. Toad and I will be some of the first visitors to visit it.
Thank you for your kind visit today, we always appreciate it. Please do feel free to leave us any comments that you may have as we really love to hear from all our visitors.