COMMENT: Landmark barn needs to stay where it is

Bradley-Craig Barn, October 2015. Photo by Barry Gray.

(Photo: Bradley-Craig Barn, October 2015.  Photo by Barry Gray.)

From a heritage perspective, moving the Bradley-Craig barn from Hazeldean Road to Munster is only a slightly better option than turning into firewood.

The big barn has been a bright red beacon in Stittsville for over 140 years. The owner, Richcraft, has asked the city for permission to dismantle it piece-by-piece and ship it to Saunders Farm.

While I’m sure the Saunders family would be excellent stewards for the structure, the barn’s heritage value would be lost.

The gist of Richcraft’s argument is that the barn no longer fits into the character of the surroundings (strip malls and suburban housing), therefore it’s out of context and they should be allowed to remove it.

But that’s not how heritage designation works. Preserving the traditional character of a community is exactly why we need to preserve heritage buildings in their original location.

Whether surrounded by cows or by chain stores, the big red barn continues to be a landmark in this area: architecturally interesting, historically significant, and a tie to the past.

About a year ago, our city councillor told me that structurally, the old bones of the barn were in good shape. There must be a creative architect who can come up with a way to include it as a viable part of the new development. Similar barns have been converted into restaurants, residences, bed & breakfasts and assembly halls. Often the cost to renovate is comparable – or even less – than new construction.

To me, the issue here is as much about the future of Stittsville as it is about preserving the old barn.

Rather than tear it down because it doesn’t fit in with banal big box stores and strip malls, I suggest to Richcraft that they keep it intact, and let it inspire their architects and planners to raise the bar on suburban design.   Create something that we can all be proud of for years to come.


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6 thoughts on “COMMENT: Landmark barn needs to stay where it is”

  1. I couldn’t have said that better myself.

    We need to stop this whole process of mowing down everything that takes up space that could be more houses, or another store.

    Stittsville is already starting to take on the appearance of Merivale Road. It’s not too late for city representatives to stop bowing to the big developers, and keep at least some of the history intact.

  2. Andre
    Thats fine just be ready to pay massive tax increases if the city was to start buying lands just to stop devlelopment were talkling billion added to the debt.

  3. @Jayme – the city doesn’t need to buy anything. They just need to apply the appropriate designations to these properties, and ensure the zoning laws they already put in place don’t get changed to bend to the developers’ wishes!

    The developer already knew what they were getting into. They just want to change the rules now that they have everything almost as they want it. As Heritage Ottawa states, “The designation of these two structures was an integral part of granting the zoning for redevelopment of the surrounding land in 2010”.

    If the city wants to stop this barn from being moved or destroyed, trust me, it doesn’t have to buy it to make that happen. It just needs to stick to its guns – it’s already been designated a heritage site, and the builder agreed to the zoning.

    Remember the root cause here – a developer finds that this barn is in the way. It wants to move it out of the way so it can build and sell a whole bunch more. A developer that doesn’t give a rat’s behind about heritage, or anything other than their profit.

    The city can choose to do what the developer wants, or it can choose to cause the barn to be preserved and keep it as a heritage site.

    If it’s kept as a heritage site, the developer is free to explore other options for use of said barn. Wasn’t there talk about using it for something else? A restaurant, or some other kind of business?

    And, of course, one has to ask those that think the barn is past its best before date – and not worthy of maintenance and repair, then how will moving it solve that? Suddenly it will become repairable?

  4. Andre

    Its not that easy the city can’t just say were not going to allow any developemnt there would be court challenges and the city would lose.

    1. As Andre said, the City needs to stick to its guns. If the land is zoned agricultural, a developer should not look at buying the land in the first place. I have said many times before, the city should have a 5 or 10 yr. moratorium on rezoning. If its zoned high-denisity residential, build on it. If its zoned agricultural, farm it., and so on. I used to eat off that land. Now, there is no food being produced on that entire strip from Eagleson Rd., all the way up to Dwyer Hill, the entire length of Concession XI, Goulbourn Township.

  5. Leave the buildings where they are! since the location of the barn on the Bradley-Craig farmstead is integral to its historic value.

    They will have no meaning if moved to Saunders Farm.

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