Friends of Bellevue get green light for working group

By Karen Fallon
John McDonald, from the Friends of Bellevue, sought support of council for the formation of a working group to explore options for the restoration of the Bellevue House, on March 21.
Bellevue built in the style of a Palladian Villa is one of only two such buildings which have declared nationally significant in Canada. The other is Province House in Halifax (1819).
The house was built by the Reynolds family in 1816 after the War of 1812, when American occupying forces left the area in 1815.
“This was an enormous expression of hope and optimism that there was indeed something to be established here; it was worth the effort to plant the seed and let it grow,” said McDonald.
According to a letter from the group Bellevue was “home to and designed by Catherine Reynolds, English Canada’s first native born artist, whose works are represented in the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Art Gallery of Windsor, Fort Malden NHSOC, and the Windsor Community Museum.”
Over the past several years, Amherstburg’s Heritage Committee is said to have expressed concern over the deterioration of the Bellevue property on Dalhousie St. which is recognized as a historic building by the Province and has been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act by the Town of Amherstburg.
“The bicentennial is almost upon us and we are reaching out to emphasize our heritage and our history, says McDonald, who noted the new representatives for the owners of the home are open to dialog and ideas.”
Councillor Robert Pillon says it is “good news” that the owners are “coming on stream.”
“I think what the group needs to do is get some government seed money and get moving on that,” said Pillon. “I am sure the town can help you in some way.”
In the correspondence it was noted that the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, the Ontario Heritage Trust, Heritage Canada, the National Historic Sites Alliance, Parks Canada, the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal as well as both federal and provincial members of parliament are well acquainted with the plight of Bellevue.
Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland says it is important that council get behind the concept in an effort to save the Bellevue house and help the group access seed money.
“This has been a long time in coming,” said councillor John Sutton. “It would be a shame to loose that building. A lot of the history of Amherstburg is tied to that building and we certainly want to promote that and see it returned to its former glory.”
“Truly it is going to take all three levels of government and the entire community to get behind it to get that building restored,” he added. “Kudos to the Friends of Bellevue for bringing this forward.”
Council supported McDonald’s request.

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