Shirley Curson-Prue

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.

Town council to pursue $1 million grant for Belle Vue restoration

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council voted to pursue up to $1 million in federal funding for the restoration of Belle Vue.

Council voted 3-2 to pursue funding under the National Cost-Sharing Program with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Joan Courtney voting in favour. Councillors Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche were opposed with councillors Jason Lavigne and Diane Pouget having declared conflict of interest.

The grant would provide matching funds with $1 million having to be raised locally in order to procure the grant. Meloche had concerns with that portion of the request and was also concerned about the condition that work had to be completed by March 31, 2018.

CAO John Miceli said he was confident the Belle Vue Conservancy would raise the $1 million necessary. He pointed out the heritage aspects of the building involve the exterior and that no interior work was involved at the present time. He added the first project is to protect the building structure.

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.

“In the grant application, administration has taken a conservative approach in moving the grant application forward for submission. In an effort to capitalize on the program and the available funding and in light of the fact that public consultation on the programming of Belle Vue has not been completed, administration has not included the interior renovations as part of the grant submission,” the report from director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau and manager of tourism Anne Rota stated. “This was done in an effort to allow for public consultation to occur with the programming space. Administration believes that there is an element of risk associated with the interior renovation as modifications may be required to the interior space once the community has been consulted and that maybe outside the scope of the $2,514,814 estimate provided by Architecturra.”

Meloche added that no tax dollars were to be used on the project and was concerned that the taxpayers could be placed at risk.

Miceli said council had the authority to hold off on applying for the grant but he again voiced confidence in the ability to raise the necessary funds.

“We strongly feel we can meet the criteria of the grant and the eligibility requirements,” he said. “My position was we have a grant on the table and we have a group of committed citizens that will raise the money.”

Courtney said she didn’t see any reason not to pursue the grant funding.

“It’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned,” said Courtney.

Fryer said he was not comfortable with “fronting” the group any money and stated such methods were used in the past without achieving positive results in the end. He believed if the town were to do that, it would leave “a bad taste” in people’s mouths.

Fryer also complained he didn’t receive the report until 2:30 p.m. and suggested that the matter be deferred. DiCarlo replied that the report was posted the previous Friday.

Shirley Curson-Prue, president of the Belle Vue Conservancy, told town council the terms of the group’s partnership with the town includes the town seeking out and making grant applications for funding from all levels of government.

Curson-Prue said the group’s fundraising strategy is to raise $1 million with the expectation being that it would take “about a year.”

“If we are successful, and if you approve of making the Parks Canada application and if the application is approved, we have the potential to raise $2 million to secure the building, which is the phase one target.”

The Belle Vue Conservancy has also launched online fundraising, she added. Corporations and businesses have been contacted with follow-up meetings planned to gain donations for the 2017 tax year.

Curson-Prue told town council the group has raised $36,000 with in-kind contributions totaling an additional $20,000. She added those figures do not include any work on the building that may be completed pro-bono.

Future fundraising activities include a video with DiCarlo, an e-mail campaign, a mail-out with tax bills and the art fundraiser in which Peter Rindlisbacher will creating a painting of the historic mansion.

The Belle Vue Conservancy can be found online at www.bellevueconservancy.com.

Belle Vue Conservancy outlines sponsorship program to council

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Belle Vue Conservancy has outlined its next steps to town council, with some of those steps including sponsorship opportunities.

Shirley Curson-Prue, president of the conservancy, spoke to town council at their most recent meeting with several members of the group in the audience. She also presented a written presentation to the town.

“We have confirmed the branding, goal, and vision of the Conservancy and developed an overarching fundraising strategy. Based on information provided by the town liaison representative, our activity should be eligible for matching funds up to $1 million through a Sesquicentennial Program to be offered by Parks Canada,” Curson-Prue stated. “There may well be funds available from other departments and other levels of government. For this reason the Conservancy Steering Committee confirmed our intention to target our fundraising activities for phase one to be up to $1 million.”

The first phase includes obtaining “keystone sponsors” including room sponsors that could go as high as $300,000 for a room to window sponsors for the ten rooms that they hope to raise $200,000 from in total.

A crowd sourcing fundraising campaign is expected to start in February. They hope to raise $50,000 in a semi-annual campaign.

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 DelCol.

“As indicated, we are recommending Naming Rights as a way to generate considerable individual and corporate funds, the lowest amount being $20,000 for a window, up to and including $200,000 or more for different rooms or areas of the building. We have researched naming rights offered by other charitable and not-for–profit organizations and agencies and relied to a certain extent on the activities and funds raised for the Hospice of Windsor and Essex which has generated millions of dollars for the restoration and ongoing maintenance of their facility,” Curson-Prue reported to council. “Given the potential variety of donations from $25 for a tax receipt to $100,000 for naming a large main floor room, it is confirmed that the conservancy will maintain ongoing consultation with the CAO and town administration concerning the type and nature of acknowledgments for other levels of donations. Where it is apparent additional involvement of the town council is required this will be recommended and facilitated through the office of the CAO.”

There are 14 active members of the conservancy, she told town council, noting they are all volunteers.

Councillor Leo Meloche said he is pleased the group “hit the ground running.

“I like what I see and I hope for more good things for the community,” said Meloche.

Upon questioning from Councillor Rick Fryer, CAO John Miceli said there will be no new staff member added to pursue grants with manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota, director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau and Miceli the ones that will pursue grants.

“I commend you on the work you are doing and thank you very much,” added Councillor Joan Courtney.

Belle Vue Conservancy goes live with online fundraising

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Belle Vue Conservancy’s fundraising efforts have now gone live online.

There has been a “button” added to the group’s website – located at www.bellevueconservancy.com – where people can now make online donations to the project. The link went live Tuesday night, after the Dec. 7 print issue of the River Town Times had already gone to press.

The direct link is https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/amherstburg-community-foundation/

Belle Vue Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue said the group is a partner with the town of Amherstburg and things can move forward now that the town officially owns the historic home.

The town took ownership of Belle Vue Nov. 14.

“You couldn’t do anything until the property was owned by the town,” said Curson-Prue.

Curson-Prue pointed out that donations made towards restoring the Belle Vue Conservancy go through the town’s community foundation.

“We’re not handing out tax receipts,” she explained. “The town is.”

The Belle Vue Conservancy, represented by Curson-Prue, made a delegation before town council in late-October and plans to return with another delegation later this month.

Belle Vue FrontWEB

Through her earlier delegation, it was established that the role of the town will be to exercise due diligence in seeking out opportunities and making application for funding at all levels of government and in the private sector for which the Belle Vue property is deemed eligible.

The role of the Belle Vue Conservancy being to promote opportunities to share the history of Belle Vue and to undertake a planned strategy for fundraising to effect the successful preservation and rehabilitation of the Belle Vue property.

Curson-Prue said the partnership with the town has been great so far.

“It’s been very strong reciprocally to deal with them,” she said.

There are also regular efforts by the town to see when Parks Canada grant funding may become available, said Curson-Prue, with such funding possibly being as much as $1 million in matching funds.

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.

“That means we have to collect $1 million to get $1 million,” explained Michael Prue, the conservancy’s treasurer.

As reported in the Nov. 9 edition of the River Town Times, the group will also be working with artist Peter Rindlisbacher on a fundraiser. Rindlisbacher will be starting a new painting of Belle Vue early in 2017 with the plan being to hang the finished artwork in the refurbished Belle Vue with reproductions available to purchase as a way for the public to help financially support the renovation efforts.

The time period Rindlisbacher will be depicting in the painting will be the 1920’s, with the centre portion and the two wings having been attached. A renovation was done at that point, with one of the wings having been built to house a museum.

“It was done to replicate the way it was in the 1800’s when it was first built,” said Curson-Prue.

There will also be an attempt to start a crowd funding website in February, added Prue.

For those preferring to make donations via cheque, they can be mailed to the Belle Vue Conservancy at 307 Crystal Bay Dr., Amherstburg, ON, N9V 4A6. For further information, call 519-736-6947.