Belle Vue Conservancy

Belle Vue Conservancy presents WSO concert proceeds to Amherstburg Community Foundation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Belle Vue Conservancy raised $5,359 from last month’s concert featuring the Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s string musicians and that money has been transferred to the Amherstburg Community Foundation.

The foundation, the charitable arm of the town, received the cheque last Thursday morning with director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau and Libro Centre manager of recreation services Rick Daly accepting on behalf of the town.

Carolyn Davies, vice president of the Belle Vue Conservancy and a main organizer of the concert, thanked the WSO for coming to Amherstburg and also thanked those in the community who supported it.

“It was a sold out crowd and I was delighted the community supported it,” said Davies. “We had amazing support from our sponsors and patrons.”

Davies said the Dalhousie St. historic site has been “awaiting restoration since 2003” and believe it will be an economic driver for Amherstburg, much in the same way it was when it was originally constructed in 1816-19.

“It’s come full circle,” she said.

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy present the proceeds from the recent Windsor Symphony Orchestra concert to the Amherstburg Community Foundation last Thursday morning.

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy present the proceeds from the recent Windsor Symphony Orchestra concert to the Amherstburg Community Foundation last Thursday morning.

Linda Jackson, who leads the conservancy’s corporate outreach, believed a restored Belle Vue “is going to become an integral to the Amherstburg community.” She believed it would drive tourism as well as attract historians and genealogists to the area.

“Let’s call it what it is,” she added. “It’s a 200-year-old national historic site.”

Jackson also pointed out the work being done by conservancy member Paul Hertel, as Hertel is researching the World War I veterans that stayed there when it was a veterans home.

“We are certainly looking forward to all of the discoveries (Hertel) is making,” said Jackson.

Rousseau thanked the conservancy for its work and for their efforts in realizing their dream of restoring the home.

“It’s very much appreciated,” he said.

The town of Amherstburg agreed to purchase the home last September.

Doll museum makes $20,000 donation towards Belle Vue restoration

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Shaanti International Museum of Costumes and Dolls has stepped forward to help the Belle Vue Conservancy.

The doll museum, which is currently operating out of the Malden Community & Cultural Centre located at 7860 County Road 20, officially presented a cheque for $20,000 to the conservancy last Thursday morning on Belle Vue’s front porch.

The donation is the first under the conservancy’s sponsorship program and the $20,000 will result in a window being named for the Shaanti International Museum of Costumes and Dolls.

Michael Prue, treasurer of the Belle Vue Conservancy, said the donation from the doll museum has been the largest to date and hopes it inspires other individuals and companies to step forward.

“This property can be restored to the way it was,” said Prue. “It won’t take very long with donations like this.”

The Palladian-style architecture is rare in Canada, with Prue citing a Nova Scotia government building as the only other example.

The Shaantii International Museum of Costumes and Dolls made a $20,000 donation to the Belle Vue Conservancy last Thursday and will get naming rights to a window. From left: Conservancy treasurer Michael Prue, Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue, museum secretary/treasurer Raj Varma, museum board member Nancy Morand, museum vice president Ivan Robich and Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale.

The Shaantii International Museum of Costumes and Dolls made a $20,000 donation to the Belle Vue Conservancy last Thursday and will get naming rights to a window. From left: Conservancy treasurer Michael Prue, Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue, museum secretary/treasurer Raj Varma, museum board member Nancy Morand, museum vice president Ivan Robich and Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale.

“I am looking forward to the day (Belle Vue) is open to the public and we can say with extreme pride that we are from Amherstburg and we’ve been able to do this,” he said.

“We’re making strides. We’re just not making huge strides yet,” said Shirley Curson-Prue, the president of the conservancy.

Other fundraisers are in the works, Curson-Prue noted, and said artist Peter Rindlisbacher is working on the painting that will hang in the Belle Vue and be reproduced for public sale. Rindlisbacher’s involvement was announced last year.

More donations are in the works, she added, but can’t be announced just yet.

The doll museum raised its money largely through bingos and Raj Varma, secretary/treasurer with the museum, indicated they would like to see Belle Vue as a “destination point in Amherstburg.”

Their own museum contains rare dolls and costumes with Varma stating “the museum is very unique in North America.” The collection features dolls from all over the globe with board vice president Ivan Robich adding the collection is valued at $500,000.

“A lot of the dolls have come from private collections,” said Robich.

The Shaanti International Museum of Costumes and Dolls came to Amherstburg with the assistance of the town’s tourism department after several stops in Windsor. Robich believes it was a “Godsend” they were able to located at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre, which is also known as “the Little White Church.”

Nancy Morand, a director with the museum’s board, added her belief that the relationship has been “mutually beneficial” to the town and the museum. It is open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. during the Amherstburg Farmers Market season, which starts this Saturday. The museum is also open for private tours by calling 519-839-4237.

The doll museum could have some sort of presence at Belle Vue, through an exhibit or a display, but the future use of the property still appears to be focused on a conference centre type facility. Public consultation is yet to come with future uses to be discussed during those talks.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale thanked the doll museum for its donation.

“It’s donations like these that bring us closer to opening Belle Vue,” said DiPasquale. “We hope this encourages others to make donations so we can open these doors as soon as possible.”

WSO entertains sold out crowd at Belle Vue fundraiser

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Belle Vue Conservancy’s fundraising attempts took a step forward last Thursday night with the aid of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra (WSO).

The WSO’s string orchestra was at Christ Church where 135 people enjoyed the nine selections performed by the musicians.

“We’re really fortunate that everyone has backed us,” said Belle Vue Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue. “People are understanding what we want to do.”

The WSO string orchestra performs at Christ Church April 27. It was a fundraiser presented by the Belle Vue Conservancy.

The WSO string orchestra performs at Christ Church April 27. It was a fundraiser presented by the Belle Vue Conservancy.

As the concert approached, the ticket sales began to pick up as did the sponsorships. The concert raised over $5,350.

“The momentum is growing, which is good,” said Curson-Prue.

The Belle Vue Conservancy is attempting to raise $1 million during the first phase of its fundraising efforts as initial work has to be done to secure the 200-year-old home’s foundation, roof and eavestroughs. They are hopeful of landing matching federal grant money as well.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has raised approximately $84,500 including in-kind contributions. Their next fundraiser is the “Birdies and Bogies for Belle Vue” golf tournament, scheduled for May 13 at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor. It is a 1 p.m. scramble start and the cost is $150 per person. Curson-Prue said they had about 90 golfers registered as of last Thursday night.

The WSO string orchestra performed an hour-long concert April 27 as a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy. The concert was at Christ Church on Ramsay St.

The WSO string orchestra performed an hour-long concert April 27 as a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy. The concert was at Christ Church on Ramsay St.

Those interested can call Meg Reiner at 519-890-4425, e-mail Megreiner9@gmail.com or download a registration form at www.bellevueconservancy.com.

Conservancy vice president Carolyn Davies told the audience at Christ Church that their attendance “sets us on a path for the goal of restoration” and also read greetings from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, who was announced as being unable to attend due to a death in his family.

Rev. Bill Strang said there are similarities between Christ Church and Belle Vue. He said Robert Reynolds, who built Belle Vue between 1816-19, also donated bricks towards the construction of Christ Church, which opened in 1819.

The WSO string orchestra performed an hour-long concert last Thursday night as a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy. The concert was at Christ Church on Ramsay St.

The WSO string orchestra performed an hour-long concert last Thursday night as a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy. The concert was at Christ Church on Ramsay St.

“The ties between Belle Vue and Christ Church go back a long way,” said Rev. Strang.

The town of Amherstburg purchased the building last year for $1.1 million – $100,000 down and $200,000 paid annually interest-free over a five-year period – along with a $200,000 donation receipt. The Belle Vue Conservancy is the body attempting to raise the funds for the restoration and the public is asked to donate either through the conservancy’s website or at www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

The group also has a Facebook page found at www.facebook.com/bellevueconservancy and can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BelleVuematters.

Belle Vue Conservancy has two fundraising events scheduled

 

Special to the RTT

After the devastating War of 1812, the construction of Belle Vue by the Reynolds family gave our forefathers hope.

Over the past two centuries Belle Vue has continued to play an important role in the town of Amherstburg, serving as a residence for three additional families, then as a convalescent home for injured war veterans and as a place of worship for the Ukranian Catholic Church.

In more recent years it was neglected and so is now in need of restoration.

The Town of Amherstburg purchased this building and property in 2016 and, in addition to preserving our national heritage, sees a future for the Belle Vue as part of the Town’s economic development.

After core restoration is completed, interior work will be done and the Belle Vue will be open for use by the public as a regional meeting, conference and cultural centre; as well a range of formal botanical gardens and greenhouses will be developed on the property, all of which will attract business and tourism to Amherstburg. It will significantly contribute to the enhancement of the historic Amherstburg waterfront which stretches along the River from the Kings Navy Yard Park to the Belle Vue.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has a new logo, designed and donated by local artist Elio Del Col.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has a new logo, designed and donated by local artist Elio Del Col.

Through collaboration with citizens and partnership with the Town of Amherstburg, the Belle Vue Conservancy, a team of dedicated volunteers, is focused on raising One million dollars for restoration to secure the property, specifically for a new roof, windows, gutters and foundation work, i.e. the envelope of the building. These Phase 1 core repairs are of absolute urgency in order to stabilize the house after the years of severe neglect. Since the Town now owns the historic Belle Vue property we believe it is in all of our best interests to work together to secure the future of Belle Vue.

In addition to promoting donations related to naming rights concerning different rooms and parts of the building, the Conservancy is currently undertaking two special events that are sure to be of interest to local residents.

First is a concert “Leading Notes for Belle Vue” to be provided by the Windsor Junior Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Robert Franz, in partnership with Christ Church, located at 317 Ramsay St. in Amherstburg. It will be held April 27 at 7 p.m. This concert preserves our ties with the WSO and is anticipated to be the first of many such events. Tickets are $20 each and are available at the Gordon House, Sobeys and the Gibson Gallery. Sponsors for this event will be showcased on line and in the evening’s program.

Our second scheduled event is a golf competition “Birdies and Bogies for Belle Vue” to be held on Saturday, May 13 at Sutton Creek Golf Club. Registration is $150 and includes a golf cart, lunch during golf, dinner and a registration gift as well as a tax receipt for $50. Spouses and partners who would like to attend the dinner only may do so with pre-registration and payment of $50

Information about the history of Belle Vue and the Belle Vue Conservancy activities as well as opportunities to donate can be found on our website at www.bellevueconservancy.com.

 

 

 

Belle Vue through the hands of the property owners

 

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles by historian/genealogist Debra Honor regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

The beautiful home of Robert Reynolds, Belle Vue, has over 200 years of stories to tell. This article will explain the progression of owners.

The Wyandot First Nations made a gift of land to the many Loyalists who helped during the American Revolution. The Crown accepted the transfer of the property in 1797 and granted Alexander McKee with 2,000 acres which included Lot 4 Concession 1. Alexander’s son, Thomas McKee, sold the property to William Mills on the 20th November 1807.

William Mills was mortally wounded at the Battle of the River Raisin 1813 and is buried in the big stone crypt at Christ Church. After the War of 1812, having no children, his estate was settled. James Gordon acquired his house (Gordon House) and Robert Reynolds bought the former McKee property for £2,000. The transaction settled on the 20 August 1817. This property included Lots 4, 21, 28, 40 and 47 going back to Concession 5. Five days later, Robert sold the south half of all those lots to George Benson Hall for £1,000. Robert Reynolds built Belle Vue on Lot 4 on the riverfront.

This is the front of Belle Vue in the Italianate style with William Johnston and his family on the front lawn. (Special to the RTT)

This is the front of Belle Vue in the Italianate style with William Johnston and his family on the front lawn. (Special to the RTT)

Robert owned the property for 42 years. In 1842, he severed a part of Lot 4 for his son, Dr. Robert Todd Reynolds to build a house. Dr. Reynolds purchased his aging father’s property on 27 May 1859 giving his father a “Life Lease”. Robert Reynolds died in 1865 and his son soon put the farm up for sale which took until the 1st August 1871 when William Johnston, a local druggist (pharmacist) purchased the property. The Johnston family modernized and enlarged the house in the Italianate style including two large reception rooms with bay windows and a new front veranda. They lived in the house for 16 years.

(Continued next month)

 

Please support our fundraising campaign. One-hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again!