Published on October 22, 2013
Shelburne Historical Society President Louise Lindsay, left, holds the building permit for the Cox Warehouse received on Oct. 16. Historical society board member Jim Winfield and Shelburne Museum Complex maintenance manager Doreen Guy hold up a sign in front of the warehouse expressing the relief of many that work is finally underway.
By Sue Deschene
Special to The Coast Guard
Following years of roller-coaster twists and turns, it's official: construction ladders and scaffolding are soon going up at the Cox Warehouse.
The building's owner, the Shelburne Historical Society, has been working behind the scenes, securing a new tenant and a government grant. The hard work has paid off, with the historical society signing an agreement with Shelburne Physiotherapy to lease part of the Cox Warehouse. And, funds from a $229,089 Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) grant are finally being released so now much-needed repair and renovation work can begin.
President Louise Lindsay received the good news on Sept. 30: The historical society had met all of ACOA's grant criteria for its revised work plan, and so could apply for an advance payment and proceed with the project.
“The project is going forward,” Lindsay says. “We officially started [on Monday, Oct. 7] when we signed the contracts. As soon as we get a building permit, work can begin.”
First up is the roof. Missing sections of roof create gaps which leak rain onto the third floor of the 16,000-square-foot structure. The roofing contract was awarded to On Shore Construction, who will replace the roof.
The roof is expected to be finished by the end of November, with work on the rest of the building to be completed by the end of March 2014.
For this work to proceed, the historical society needed to have the ACOA money not only approved, but in the bank. However, the ACOA grant does not cover the entire scope of work needed to put the Cox Warehouse back in business.
The estimated total cost of the project, based on the tenders received, is $337,348. Subtracting from that total cost the ACOA and municipal grants, plus donations received from fundraising thus far, at least $75,000 more is needed to complete the interior and exterior work. If additional expenses pop up then the historical society will need to raise more money.
Knowing that this funding shortfall was looming, the historical society has been working for over a year now to raise money. Fundraising began after Shelburne's new brewery signed a lease with the society, then came to a halt when the brewery withdrew last December. The fundraising effort began anew after Shelburne Physiotherapy stepped forward as the new tenant.
At that point, historical society members and other volunteers from the community began approaching private individuals, businesses and corporations in an effort to shore up the additional funding. So far, $14,080 in donations have been received, as well as $1,600 raised during an auction of warehouse items last October.
Lindsay is grateful to all who have already donated to the Cox Warehouse Project, as well as Shelburne Physiotherapy and ACOA for coming through. She also thanked the Municipality of Shelburne and the Town of Shelburne for their strong support.
While a remaining $75,000 is left to raise, the project is still moving forward, thanks to the historical society’s decision to temporarily tap into its equity line of credit. However, the funds withdrawn from the line of credit must be repaid, as they are designated for the operations of the Shelburne Museum Complex, which includes the Dory Shop Museum, the Ross-Thomson House and Store Museum and the Shelburne County Museum.
Other federal, provincial and municipal funds granted specifically to museum complex operations cannot be reallocated to repair or renovate the Cox Warehouse.
Acting site manager Hélène Branch points out that while the Cox Warehouse is an important historical building, it's only one part of the museum complex. Managing the complex and ensuring there are sufficient funds to operate all three museums is the primary mandate of the Shelburne Historical Society.
“These museums not only draw visitors to our waterfront, they also employ people in our community,” Branch notes. “[The museum complex] is an important community asset, as is the Cox Warehouse.”
To the historical society, tapping into its line of credit is a risk worth taking, believing that the community also recognizes the importance of preserving and restoring the Cox Warehouse and will contribute funds to cover the remaining costs of the renovations.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the Cox Warehouse Project can stop by the Shelburne County Museum, located at 20 Dock St. in Shelburne, or mail a cheque or money order, payable to the Shelburne Historical Society, to: Shelburne Historical Society, P.O. Box 39, Shelburne, NS, B0T 1W0.
Tax receipts are available for all donations.
The historical society plans to host ongoing events and provide regular updates on progress with the Cox Warehouse Project.