Two buildings in Alberta have made an annual list of the Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Canada.
The Manie Opera Society building in Lethbridge and Hangar 11 at the former Edmonton Municipal Airport were placed on the list compiled by the National Trust For Canada, a charity focused on preserving older buildings.
"On the national list we tried to focus on iconic buildings but we also want to spotlight the range of vernacular and humble buildings across Canada that are at risk of disappearing," Chris Wiebe, manager of heritage policy and public programs at National Trust told The Calgary Eyeopener.
Originally built around 1907, the two-storey Manie Opera Society building — also known as the Kwong On Lung building — is the oldest in Lethbridge's Chinatown district. It has had several incarnations over the years, being home to a grocery store, a household goods store and later several restaurants.
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The building got its current name not because it served as an opera house but because it was most recently the offices of the Manie Opera Society.
In 2013, the building was declared structurally unsafe by the City of Lethbridge after a heavy rain and has been vacant since.
The building's current owner doesn't have the funds to restore the building but is reluctant to sell it, so the group Save Chinatown Lethbridge and members of the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone have been working to fundraise to salvage it as well as a neighbouring building.
"They need about $175,000 worth of work to retain them," said Wiebe. "Chinatown in Lethbridge is a really historic area. There was a group of Chinese immigrants who came there with the building of the railway in the 1880s, but also working in the coal mines. Part of the racist segregation laws in the World War I era meant that a nucleus formed around this particular area. There's only about four buildings left from that era."
Built in 1942, Hangar 11 is one of only two remaining Second World War-era hangars built at the former Blatchford Field — later the Edmonton municipal airport — through a partnership with the U.S. Air Force.
The former airfield helped move thousands of American bombers, fighters and transport planes though Edmonton to Alaska and finally to Russia during the Second World War. Hangar 11 is listed on the city's Inventory of Historic Resources, but is not protected by formal designation.
The former municipal airfield is now being redeveloped and Hangar 11 is not being retained.
"It's an incredibly intact building," said Wiebe. "They're redeveloping the whole site for a residential neighbourhood and this would be a tremendous opportunity to speak to that historic character of the airfield and convert it into some kind of community use, like a sports centre or something of that nature."
The Top 10 list of Endangered Historic Places in Canada for 2017 includes:
- The Black Horse Pub and Pig's Ear Tavern in Peterborough, Ont.
- Cathedrale Saint-Germain in Rimouski, Que.
- Young Avenue in Halifax, N.S.
- Davisville Junior Public School/Spectrum Alternative Senior School in Toronto.
- Wallingford-Back Mine in Mulgrave-et-Derry, Que.
- Bryn Mawr, in St. John's N.L.
- Manie Opera Society Building in Lethbridge, Alta.
- Somerset House in Ottawa.
- Hangar 11 in Edmonton.
- The Sinclair Centre in Vancouver.
With files from The Calgary Eyeopener