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Letter: Community rallies to support Cox Warehouse  …or does it?

The Cox Warehouse.
The Cox Warehouse.

None

A few years ago there was a loud hue and cry from a small group of Shelburne and area citizens, exhorting the Shelburne Historical Society, which owns the Cox Warehouse, not to allow a developer to destroy the building and erect condominiums on Shelburne’s Dock Street. Passions for the iconic building were stirred; promises were made to help the owners of the building and soon after, the Town of Shelburne used a power of veto to disallow the same development.

Fast forward to today. The Society, with ACOA funding, some donations and at its own expense, renovated the exterior of the building and brought it up to code to allow a tenant, Shelburne Physiotherapy, to invest a great deal of its own money into the building to accommodate its needs. Today, the Cox Warehouse proudly houses a thriving business on the waterfront. Already Shelburne Physiotherapy is looking to expand its space within the warehouse. Not only that, but more businesses are clamouring to move into other areas of the warehouse. The massive renovation undertaken this past year was the first of a three-phase project developed by the Shelburne Historical Society. Phases 2 and 3 will be far less burdensome, in terms of expense to the Society, and will enable full use of this 60,000-square-foot building. But in order for us to begin Phases 2 and 3, we must first be free and clear of Phase 1.

Which brings us to where we are now. Despite the museum complex enjoying a stellar summer season last year, generating our highest retail profit ever, the Shelburne Historical Society is struggling financially due to the enormous debt we hold as a result of last year’s renovations to the Cox Warehouse.

The promises made years ago did not materialize. The small group of people who were moved to rally to save the building lost interest and moved on to other causes.

The Shelburne Historical Society, with a volunteer board of eight people, also owns and operates the Shelburne County Museum and operates the Dory Shop and Ross-Thomson House Museums for the Nova Scotia Museum. It owns the Coyle House, home of Tottie’s Crafts, and the Orderly Room on Ann Street, maintained by the 3rd New Jersey Volunteers reenactment group. The Society, under then-president David Huddleston’s leadership, was instrumental in obtaining funding for a major renovation of the Muir-Cox Shipyard building, now used by the Shelburne Sailing School. These beautiful old buildings all help to tell Shelburne’s Loyalist, seafaring and boat-building history.

The renovation of the Cox Warehouse was a monumental task for such a small group already doing a herculean job of maintaining and preserving Shelburne’s heritage. That's especially true considering that our primary mandate is to manage the three museums in our complex. The Cox Warehouse is above and beyond those responsibilities.

Perhaps we, the board of the Society, took on more than we should have. Perhaps we should have thrown our hands up years ago and said to the Town of Shelburne: “Take this old building for taxes, we wash our hands of it.” Then, we would not be $60,000 in debt. But we didn’t.

Within the community, we had a handful of generous supporters for the Cox Warehouse Project, and we thank you. With your support, we raised more than $30,000.

For those who always meant to donate toward the cause and never got around to it, now would be a great time to do just that. (Make cheques payable to Shelburne Historical Society, with Cox Warehouse Project on the memo line, and mail to P.O. Box 39, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, B0T 1W0. Tax receipts are available for all donations.) Perhaps the Town of Shelburne could generously give us a break on our taxes.

Dock Street is a major drawing card for visitors to the Town of Shelburne. Those who stop at the Shelburne Visitor Information Centre often take a stroll down beautiful Dock Street and admire the waterfront, the buildings, the gardens and hanging plants – and so do we, residents of the area. From the 1970s – when the Nova Scotia Museum took ownership of the Ross-Thomson House, through the early 1980s, when Mary and Bill Archibald, the latter the chair of the Business Improvement District Commission, made major improvements to Dock Street’s crumbling seawall and prepared for the Royal Visit in 1983 – to today, the Shelburne Historical Society has played the leading role in preserving Shelburne’s heritage while maintaining its fine historic properties.

We hope to be able to continue this task for decades to come.

But it cannot happen without the community’s support.

 

Sincerely,

Cathy Holmes and Sue Deschene,

Board members, Shelburne Historical Society

A few years ago there was a loud hue and cry from a small group of Shelburne and area citizens, exhorting the Shelburne Historical Society, which owns the Cox Warehouse, not to allow a developer to destroy the building and erect condominiums on Shelburne’s Dock Street. Passions for the iconic building were stirred; promises were made to help the owners of the building and soon after, the Town of Shelburne used a power of veto to disallow the same development.

Fast forward to today. The Society, with ACOA funding, some donations and at its own expense, renovated the exterior of the building and brought it up to code to allow a tenant, Shelburne Physiotherapy, to invest a great deal of its own money into the building to accommodate its needs. Today, the Cox Warehouse proudly houses a thriving business on the waterfront. Already Shelburne Physiotherapy is looking to expand its space within the warehouse. Not only that, but more businesses are clamouring to move into other areas of the warehouse. The massive renovation undertaken this past year was the first of a three-phase project developed by the Shelburne Historical Society. Phases 2 and 3 will be far less burdensome, in terms of expense to the Society, and will enable full use of this 60,000-square-foot building. But in order for us to begin Phases 2 and 3, we must first be free and clear of Phase 1.

Which brings us to where we are now. Despite the museum complex enjoying a stellar summer season last year, generating our highest retail profit ever, the Shelburne Historical Society is struggling financially due to the enormous debt we hold as a result of last year’s renovations to the Cox Warehouse.

The promises made years ago did not materialize. The small group of people who were moved to rally to save the building lost interest and moved on to other causes.

The Shelburne Historical Society, with a volunteer board of eight people, also owns and operates the Shelburne County Museum and operates the Dory Shop and Ross-Thomson House Museums for the Nova Scotia Museum. It owns the Coyle House, home of Tottie’s Crafts, and the Orderly Room on Ann Street, maintained by the 3rd New Jersey Volunteers reenactment group. The Society, under then-president David Huddleston’s leadership, was instrumental in obtaining funding for a major renovation of the Muir-Cox Shipyard building, now used by the Shelburne Sailing School. These beautiful old buildings all help to tell Shelburne’s Loyalist, seafaring and boat-building history.

The renovation of the Cox Warehouse was a monumental task for such a small group already doing a herculean job of maintaining and preserving Shelburne’s heritage. That's especially true considering that our primary mandate is to manage the three museums in our complex. The Cox Warehouse is above and beyond those responsibilities.

Perhaps we, the board of the Society, took on more than we should have. Perhaps we should have thrown our hands up years ago and said to the Town of Shelburne: “Take this old building for taxes, we wash our hands of it.” Then, we would not be $60,000 in debt. But we didn’t.

Within the community, we had a handful of generous supporters for the Cox Warehouse Project, and we thank you. With your support, we raised more than $30,000.

For those who always meant to donate toward the cause and never got around to it, now would be a great time to do just that. (Make cheques payable to Shelburne Historical Society, with Cox Warehouse Project on the memo line, and mail to P.O. Box 39, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, B0T 1W0. Tax receipts are available for all donations.) Perhaps the Town of Shelburne could generously give us a break on our taxes.

Dock Street is a major drawing card for visitors to the Town of Shelburne. Those who stop at the Shelburne Visitor Information Centre often take a stroll down beautiful Dock Street and admire the waterfront, the buildings, the gardens and hanging plants – and so do we, residents of the area. From the 1970s – when the Nova Scotia Museum took ownership of the Ross-Thomson House, through the early 1980s, when Mary and Bill Archibald, the latter the chair of the Business Improvement District Commission, made major improvements to Dock Street’s crumbling seawall and prepared for the Royal Visit in 1983 – to today, the Shelburne Historical Society has played the leading role in preserving Shelburne’s heritage while maintaining its fine historic properties.

We hope to be able to continue this task for decades to come.

But it cannot happen without the community’s support.

 

Sincerely,

Cathy Holmes and Sue Deschene,

Board members, Shelburne Historical Society

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