2017-11-01

Work set to begin on Perkins House Museum

by Brittany Wentzell

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>A feline walks by members of the King&#8217;s Orange Rangers during a funding announcement at the Perkins House Museum last spring.</p>

It's been slow coming, but it looks like work on the Perkins House Museum, or at least the surrounding property, may begin before the snow flies.

A tender for the upgrading of a drainage system around the over 250-year-old home recently expired. According to the province's procurement site, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR), put out the tender on September 30. It expired October 16 and a company will be chosen within two weeks.

The website shows that two bids were placed - one from Mid Valley Construction Limited for $500,000 and another from Dexter Construction Co. Ltd for $122,649.

The museum was closed over two years ago when it was deemed structurally unsound. Linda Rafuse manages the museum on behalf of the Queens Historical Society. She spent the last couple years speaking out and created a postcard writing campaign in hopes of keeping the museum at the forefront of the provincial government's mind.

"It has been a long time coming," said Rafuse.

The house is the oldest home in the Nova Scotia Museum complex and was closed for both the 250th anniversary of its build as well as its 60th anniversary of its inception as a museum.

Local historians and residents pressured the McNeil government to provide a promise of funding and a timeline to the little Cape Cod style home. Last April, just prior to calling an election, a commitment of around $1.5 million to the project was made to both repairing the home as well as ensuring it's sustained through the addition of things like drainage and proper ventilation.

The home belonged to Simeon Perkins, a merchant and colonel of the militia, who was known for the preservation of his diary and his thorough documentation of 18th century and early 19th century colonial life in Liverpool and surrounding areas.

A spokesperson for the Department of Community, Culture, and Heritage says preliminary planning for repairs started in September 2016.

"This project – due to the unique architecture and age of the structure – requires thorough and careful planning to ensure we correct the building's critical stabilization and drainage issues, while retaining as much of the original material as possible," said Lisa Jarrett, media relations advisor for the department.

The development and introduction of a drainage plan, and securing archaeological expertise for monitoring site excavation, are among the tasks scheduled for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

There are also plans to hire a plaster conservation specialist to advise on the condition and conservation of the plaster, and to gather recommendations from engineers on what methods should be used to replace rotten wooden components.

Jarrett says plans will also be made for structural repairs over the winter to ensure that tenders for the work can be put out in 2018. The goal, she says, is to allow visitors inside the museum for late 2018 with some finishing touches on things like landscaping happening in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

That's a little longer than the historical society would have liked following the closure of the home, however, Rafuse says she's looking at the situation from the positive side.

"The process is going to take a little longer, but the end result will be worth the wait," said Rafuse.

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