Julie Druker | Aug 28, 2014
Close to 80 guests attended the official opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the newly expanded Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives in Napanee on August 22.
Stephen Paul, director of community and development services with the county, emceed the event, which took place at the Court House Campus. County Warden and Mayor of Greater Napanee, Gord Schermerhorn, spoke of the building of the county courthouse and jail 150 years ago, followed by the registry office and the jailer’s house in 1891. Two years ago the county began a $5 million capital project in recognition of their 150th anniversary this year. The project included the expansion of the museum and archives along with a newly constructed garage to house the custodial and maintenance services for the county's 47 buildings and associated properties.
Originally constructed in 1864 as the county jail, the museum and archives building was first retrofitted in 1974. The plans for expanding the facility began in 2001 when the county hired the Ventin Group architects to complete an assessment of the building. It was then that the county began putting aside funds for the project. In the fall of 2011 a strategic priority setting exercise was conducted that identified the preservation of the county’s heritage as one of seven priorities. With the approaching 150th anniversary, the Ventin Group was rehired to complete the design for the expansion and in January 2013 the project was awarded to PEAK Engineering and Construction Ltd.
The new addition to the museum and archive is approximately 10,000 square feet on two levels and includes a new glazed corridor entrance that links the addition to the elevator, which provides access to the second floor of the building. The reception area and the manager’s office were both renovated, and beyond them, a new lecture/multi-purpose room was built in previously unused courtyard space. Also located on the ground floor is a new research/reading room, an archivist’s office and an adjoined compact archival storage space. New washrooms were also built as well as a freight elevator that connects a receiving area with basement storage areas.
The museum contains approximately 10,000 artifacts including toys, furniture, clothing, glass, ceramics, tools and household goods and the archives holds an extensive collection of documents as well as genealogical files.
CAO Larry Keech aptly described the new addition as “understated” and while tasteful, spacious, and modern, it in no way overpowers the original feel of the heritage stone building due to the fact that the primary building materials used were limestone, glass, aluminum panels and natural wood. Keech thanked everyone involved in both projects, from the designers and builders to the county planning team and museum staff.
The Lennox and Addington Historical Society is one of the oldest historical societies in Ontario and a brief history was given by its president, Jennifer Bunting. It unofficially began in 1885, the year of the United Empire Loyalist centennial, and was officially established in 1904.
Bunting spoke of Walter Stevens Harrington, who “was deeply moved by the Loyalist centennial” and wrote a book on the history of Lennox and Addington, collecting stories and documents from the children of the pioneers. In an effort to find a home for all of his documents, Harrington, along with Clarence Warner of Wilton, established the historical society.
Following the official ribbon cutting, guests were invited into the building for a reception and to explore the many new displays, which included two exhibits commemorating the centennial of World War 1: “Fashions from the Home Front” and “The Empire Needs Men”. A third new exhibit highlighted the work of local painter Orval Madden. Also on display was an archival exhibit of photos and articles from the county's centennial celebrations in 1964.
The 150th anniversary celebrations continued the following day, August 23 at the Court House Campus with live music by fiddle masters Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy as well as performances by Circus Orange and local musicians, which were well attended.