Loyalist Township has just secured a deal to purchase three historic properties in the village of Bath.
There were concerns those properties could be sold or closed to the public, but Mayor Ric Bresee says the move will help preserve some of the area’s history.
“Our goal is to make sure that those properties and the collections attached to them remain in the public hands,” Bresee said, “and remain publicly accessible for that future education about our history.”
Fairfield-Gutzeit House, the old Town Hall and Layer Cake Hall are the properties in question. The Fairfield-Gutzeit Society was granted ownership of the three properties in 1997 after amalgamation, but they’re now under the municipality’s control.
Bresee says the township wanted to make sure that there was no risk of losing the properties to other interests.
“There was a court case that took place,” Bresee explained.
“There was clause in the original transfer at the point of amalgamation that gave the township — the successor township, Loyalist Township — what’s called first right of refusal, and we went through a legal process to validate that process and through that the properties became property of Loyalist Township.”
At this point, the mayor says the old Town Hall, which has been a museum, will continue in that capacity. There will not be any change to Layer Cake Hall, either, which has housed a branch of the Lennox and Addington Public Library for years and will continue to do so.
As for the third, Bresee talks about the historic house on the waterfront.
“We’re still a little in flux about what our plans are for the Fairfield-Gutzeit House and how to arrange for that public access to it under the municipal direction, as opposed to under the Fairfield-Gutzeit Society.”
As for a funding model, the mayor says that’s still very much a work in progress. The township paid a nominal fee for the properties.