The city plans to open the doors of a historic mansion in case anyone wants to shoot a film there.
Staff will try to entice location scouts to Chedoke House, an 1836 mansion on the brow of the escarpment. The inside could double for any Victorian home, and would be at home in many movies or TV shows, said Ian Kerr-Wilson, manager of museums and heritage at the city of Hamilton.
The city has appeared in plenty of productions, Kerr-Wilson said.
“We’ve been an insane asylum. We’ve been a Cuban hotel,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve done everything from Anne of Green Gables to some very strange horror movies.”
Now, the city will include the 24-room Chedoke House in its package to location scouts.
“If we got a few shoots a year, that would generate enough revenue to basically cover our costs,” he said.
The house has character. Built by Scottish aristocrat Scott Burn, Chedoke House became the home of former media mogul William Southam. In 1909, Southam gave the house to his daughter Ethel and her husband St. Clair Balfour II.
Their daughter, Wilson Balfour Baxter, lived there until she died last year at age 97. It has sat vacant for a year.
The house has 24 rooms, including a grand drawing room and dining room and a widow’s walk. The stable once had a schoolroom overhead that doubled on Sundays as a chapel.
The city’s general issues committee voted on Wednesday to spend $86,400 to upgrade parts of the building. It will also work with Ontario Heritage Trust, who owns the building, to get a tenant in the house.
Within a year, the city will also start promoting the house as a film location, Kerr-Wilson said.
Kerr-Wilson doesn’t expect a rush of interest in filming at the mansion. But any money the city makes from it is a bonus anyway.
“It’s not a make or break today.”
The main thing is to get someone living in it, he said. Right now, it’s sitting vacant.
“We need to get lights on and get someone in there 24/7 so it stays alive.”