July 25th, 2024

Sharland House history lies within

By Gillian Slade on July 22, 2017.

The historic Sharland House/grocery store will be fully restored this summer. During asbestos removal many delightful historic details were uncovered.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE


Uncovering the wrapping on an historic property has revealed fascinating details, such as original pipes for gas lamps.

The 100-year-old Sharland home and former grocery store on Dominion Street was in the process of achieving heritage status in Medicine Hat when it was severely affected by the 2013 flood. Len Sharland was born in the house in 1931. His parents owned and operated Len Sharland Grocery store on the main level from 1923. Before that it was McKenzie Grocery having been built in 1912.

During a long process to remove asbestos, the house was stripped inside to the studs. Wood packing boxes for the grocery store appear to have been put to use where wood was needed. One piece of wood reveals the content on the original packing case was Royal Crown Soap. Another boasts fruit from what looks like “Brantford, Ontario.” There is someone’s handwritten note in blue to the consignee, “McKenzie” it says. A ball and claw bathtub was made in Toronto in 1914. It will be refinished and reused in the house as it is restored.

Sharland house will become the central theme for 12 townhouses that will be architecturally in keeping with the area, said Malcolm Sissons, Canadian Urban Building Evolution (CUBE) in Medicine Hat. Rezoning was approved by the city last fall. A development permit has not yet been applied for.

Asbestos removal in the Sharland house and two other properties, which were demolished this week to make room for a new residential townhouse development, took longer than expected. Removing asbestos is time consuming and costly in the region of $15,000 per house, said Sissons. It has to be done under strict guidelines, and throughout the process the air has to be monitored by someone other than the contractor removing the asbestos.

Prior to demolition of the two neighbouring properties on Washinton Avenue, doors and light fittings were salvaged and will be reused. One of the homes had wooden strip flooring that matches the Sharland house. It will be reused there. The original ice house, used by the Sharlands as a garage, has doors that are not original. One of the original doors was discovered during the clearing of the site. It can’t be re-used but will help to determine what new ones should look like.

The focus this summer will be completing the restoration of Sharland house, to Parks Canada’s guidelines for historical properties, and even accomplishing some landscaping, said Sissons. CUBE’s plan would ensure the protection of the historic property in perpetuity.

The townhouses will probably be a mix of single-storey and multi-storey units. The plan is to set them around a central courtyard and be sympathetic to the streetscape, taking into account roof angles and building materials, said Sissons. Construction is not expected to start until spring 2018.

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