Comment 102139

By lakeside (registered) | Posted June 07, 2014 at 00:51:16

This latest demolition reminds me that it's well past time for there to be established in Hamilton an architectural garden that could at least absorb some of the signature bits from buildings that are unfortunately demolished.

I propose this not because I want to add one more lame defense for those demolishers who can't see the value in the adaptive reuse of heritage structures, but rather so that when we do, for whatever offered reason, lose another piece of our past architectural heritage from its original location that we could at least retain a signature piece of it for posterity.

Has anyone here ever been to the the Guild Inn in Scarborough ON? It is there that a fellow named Spencer Smith and his wife Rosa built an inn and an artist's colony. Then they proceeded to furnish the estate grounds with the castoff remnants of Toronto's early grand stone office towers at a time when they were being demolished in order to bring in modern and lightweight steel-framed skyscrapers. They claimed and sometimes bought the building elements as the buildings came down.

The garden is filled with a mixture of sculpture plus stone details from demolished buildings set in a beautiful sylvan setting overlooking the lake. Some of the pieces are the entire entrance facade of the lost building reassembled on top of a new foundation, the largest of which loosely resembles the famous roman Forum. Take a look at some of the items in the garden by googling 'Guild Inn' and clicking Images.

We so badly need an Architectural Garden here. I have not before now been able to think of a really perfect site, knowing that it would need to be pretty large so it can continue to accept architectural elements for future decades as well.

But now there's the ongoing debate over what to do with the house at the Hermitage, itself a ruin, one that is still in its original place. It seems the plan is to reduce the ruins to a lower level and make it really less of an attraction because the cost of stabilizing the ruins is too high.

What if we were instead to do the full job of stabilizing them and making these ruins the centerpiece of a new sculptural and architectural garden with other architectural elements from Hamilton buildings placed in the many interesting settings around the house ruins? The cost of doing so could perhaps be justified by turning the Hermitage Architectural Garden (yes, the HAG because wouldn't that be fun?)a more major attraction, rather than a diminishing one.

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