Central Branch Upgrade – Heritage Issues

Lorne Street heritage

Lorne Street heritage

The original Carnegie Library and the YWCA shown in this picture are no longer with us, but there is still heritage to preserve.

The heritage value of the modernist Central Branch Library building opened in 1962 has been cited by those knowledgeable about architectural history. (See “Regina Modernist Architecture on Display”) Appreciation for the building is generally expressed by many Regina residents. Central Branch was highlighted in “The Ordinary Amazing Symposium:The Cultural Value of Modernist Architecture” held May 25 to May 27, 2007 in Regina. The Symposium was a joint venture by the Dunlop Art Gallery and the Mackenzie Art Gallery. (See conference details and http://ordinaryamazing.blogspot.com) Similar interest is being shown in buildings from this era in other locations. (See “The sixties turn 50” )

Central Library modernist building 1962

Central Library modernist building 1962

In November 2010 the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee (MHAC) set out to get new assessments done of the heritage value of buildings surrounding Victoria Park, since that area is a heritage district. (See See “Statements of Significance Working Group” MHAC10-21 Nov 8 2010 re SoS MHAC10-24 Dec 6 2010 re SoS  These statements are very important in determining what can be done with buildings around Victoria Park, including the Central Branch building. These statements were discussed at a MHAC meeting on December 6, 2010. (See See “Statements of Significance” ) Friends of the Regina Public Library had been requesting to see the documents. The Statements of Significance were forwarded to the organizations owning the prospective buildings in the spring of 2011, and made available to the public via the request from Friends of the Regina Public Library in December 2011.

The Statements of Significance released in December 2011 show that the Central Branch building and the neighbouring Masonic Temple have unique architectural features and historical value. SOS – Central Branch RPL   Lorne 1930 Final SoS – Masonic Temple

The SOS also cover other buildings in the area surrounding Victoria Park. 12th Avenue 2184 Final SoS – Credit Foncier Building , 12th Avenue 2170 Final SoS – Gordon Block (Novia Cafe ), Scarth 1945 Final SoS – Victoria Park Building (Copper Kettle).

Five Masonic Lodges form the Masonic Temple Company that owns the building for an organization that has been important in the fabric of our City. Currently the Masonic Temple is a fully designated heritage property under the Victoria Park Municipal Heritage Conservation District bylaw and it is also listed under the Municipal Heritage Holding Bylaw.  http://www.regina.ca/residents/heritage-history/heritage-property

An informative article about the downtown heritage district, “History District Rules”  http://www.prairiedogmag.com/cover/?c=city&id=1047

There are Conservation District Bylaws in place for the Victoria Park area, and for Knox-Metropolitan Church. Victoria Park Municipal Heritage Conservation District Bylaw 9656  Knox Met heritage designation bylaw 8227

Another resource shows the geological significance of the stonework in downtown buildings. Geological Tour of Downtown Regina

Currently the City has only approved one building built after 1945 as having heritage value. Heritage Regina has in the past requested that the City do an inventory of modern buildings in the whole downtown to determine their heritage value. This would presumably look at how buildings with interesting and unique architectural styles contribute to the beauty and variety of Regina’s downtown.

Significant alteration or demolition of the Victoria Park buildings must be reviewed by City bylaw, heritage and senior staff, and then the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee and the Regina Planning Commission before going to a vote at City Council.

Properties covered by the Municipal Heritage Holding Bylaw “… are protected against demolition or significant change under a 60- day holding period.” Municipal Heritage Holding Bylaw List During the 60 – day holding period groups may make presentations to the Municipal Heritage Advisory committee (MHAC) concerning the demolition. The MHAC can then either:
– designate the property as a Municipal Heritage Property, giving it additional protection;
OR .
– take the property off the Municipal Heritage Holding Bylaw list, allowing significant alteration or demolition to occur.

It is possible for the MHAC to designate a property even if the owners do not support it. But it is better if owners and the public are supportive and recognize the historical value of buildings.

Building owners or other organizations can apply to have a building protected as having historical value at the municipal, provincial or federal levels.

Maintaining the heritage character of the Victoria Park area should be an important consideration in upgrading Central Branch as it relates to how the Library supports community values and cultural resources.

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