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Petrie Building stands tall again in downtown Guelph following restoration

After an extensive restoration project, the facade of Guelph's Petrie Building was revealed this week.
After an extensive restoration project, the facade of Guelph's Petrie Building was revealed this week. Matt Carty / CJOY News

Guelph’s downtown core is shining a little brighter this week after the restored facade on a 135-year-old landmark was revealed on Tuesday.

The scaffolding attached to the Petrie Building at Wyndham and Macdonell streets came down following an extensive restoration project on the building’s exterior.

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“There was almost a year and a half of research and work and talking to experts,” said Kirk Roberts of Tycathlen Partners, the company that purchased the building in 2015.

“Because it’s the last example of its kind in Canada, just trying to figure out the right approach took a lot of time and something we didn’t want to err on.”

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Roberts said a lot of people came together to help with the project, including students from the Willowbank Restoration School in Niagara-on-the-Lake, who spent the summer hand scrubbing the metal facade.

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Another company helped rebuild the metal that was destroyed by rain and some work was even done in Missouri as well.

But Roberts said the project isn’t quite finished yet.

“There’s also a lower section between the new storefront windows and where the metal starts now that was destroyed by a previous owner,” he explained. “The next phase of the project is to rebuild that lower section or some version to represent the lower section that was there before.”

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The interior has also taken a lot of work too.

Roberts said the very top floor was an abandoned attic, the third floor has not been used since about 1906, and the second floor had been abandoned since the mid 1920’s.

“It was fascinating and a little bit intimidating from a restoration perspective,” he said when asked about seeing those abandoned floors for the first time.

“It was quite interesting and exciting just to see the level of detail of the crown moulding that was still there and the floors were still in fantastic shape.”

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Seven tenants will be housed in the Petrie Building. Five have already moved in. Two more businesses are expected to move in once the interior work is finished.

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Marty Williams, executive director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association, could not be more happier that the work is finally coming to a completion.

“I think there are people that live in this town who didn’t think that that would ever happen in their lifetime. I was one of them,” Williams said.

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He added when the project first started, he had no idea what complexities were involved to restore the Petrie Building.

“What a project, my goodness. It was just unbelievably complex,” Williams said. “[Tycathlen Partners] deserve the keys to the city.”