Napanee’s Cartwright Building, which was built in 1891 and once served as the home of jailhouse staff of the neighbouring L&A jail, will retain its heritage designation for the time being.
That was a unanimous decision made by Greater Napanee council during their July 11 meeting.
Town staff had presented council with three options on what to do with the 132-year-old home, which is located at 89 Thomas Street, within the same parking lot as the current L&A County Museum and Archives, just across from the L&A County Courthouse. L&A County had requested the town remove the designation.
Option 1 was to grant the request of L&A County to remove the heritage designation on the building that was first applied by the town 48 years ago.
Option 2 was to not remove the designation.
Option 3 was to defer any decision on removing the designation until the Sept. 26 council meeting.
Councillor Bob Norrie put forward the successful motion to enact Option 2.
Prior to council’s vote, resident Dennis Mills urge council to keep the designation that was put in place nearly 50 years prior.
“At that time it was deemed significant enough that it should be protected under the Ontario Heritage Act,” Mills said of the Cartwright Building. “So you have to ask, what has changed? It’s nearly a half-century older, it’s a fine example of Italianate architecture and over that period of time we have lost many others all through the Town of Greater Napanee. The significance has not changed, it still maintains its importance as part of our original upper-tier municipal government, one of four important properties that were protected under that by-law.”
Mills noted by not providing upkeep for the historical building, it was akin to tearing it down.
“If you want to get rid of a building, let it fall into disrepair and then say it’s beyond repair, we can’t save it. We’ll tear it down and cart it away and put it in the dump,” said Mills.
Chris Wagar, L&A County’s director of infrastructure services also made a deputation, explaining some of the reasoning behind the request.
He noted the building has a Facility Condition Index of 65.6 per cent, which is considered critical. The average index for county buildings is 7.2 per cent.
Though the exterior and roof of the building are in pretty good condition, the interior and foundation would need an estimated $500,000 worth of repairs over the next 10 years just to maintain its current status. The building itself is estimated to be worth $550,000. To make the building usable to the public or staff again would cost a projected $1 million.
Wagar says the request to remove the designation isn’t specifically to demolition the building, though that would be one option. Another includes relocating the building, another to find a new use for it-though those options come with a very different degree of cost attached to it.
“My thoughts are that if it was 48 years ago important enough to have a heritage designation on it, by us to voting to remove that today, or in the future, would be simply the same as ripping a page out of the history books,” said councillor Dave Pinnell Jr.
“I see no need to remove the designation. It really bothers me that the county would consider tearing it down or removing it. I don’t see any point in moving it to another location whatsoever,” added councillor Bill Martin.
Built on land donated by R.J. Cartwirght, the building was first used as a home for the jailer of the county jail, which eventually became obsolete with the arrival of the Quinte Detention Centre. In the mid 1990s the building was used for office space for L&A County staff and now serves as cold storage for non-sensitive material with no utilities running to the building.
-Greater Napanee Chief Administration Officer John Pinsent, who handed in his resignation on July 7, addressed council during his usual CAO Remarks.
“As I get ready to depart the Town of Greater Napanee I want to thank all staff for helping me over the last couple of years,” said Pinsent. “I’ve said this too many times to staffs but leadership is a privilege and it’s an honour and I take it very seriously and I thank all staff that has helped me move things forward, it has been a great time.”
Pinsent took on the role as the town’s CAO in July of 2021. During his remarks Pinsent also thanked interim treasurer Nicole Davidson, who has also resigned her position.
Pinsent’s final date has not yet been announced, but he did confirm to mayor Terry Richardson that he would still be with the town for the next council meeting, which is scheduled for July 25.