Green Gables gets a facelift

Work is underway at Green Gables Heritage Place as part of a three-year plan to rehabilitate the site.

Construction has started on a three-year rehabilitation project

The addition on the barn will be used to house the gift shop until construction on the new visitor centre is completed next spring. (Malcolm Campbell/CBC)

Work is underway at Green Gables Heritage Place in P.E.I. National Park as part of a three-year plan to rehabilitate the site.

The project is broken into three separate phases which include renovations to existing structures as well as construction on several new buildings.

Last summer the federal government announced $23 million in funding for park upgrades at P.E.I. National Park, with $9.5 million set aside for the Green Gables restoration plans.

Though the site will undergo big changes over the next three years, work is being planned around the busy summer months to ensure visitors are affected as little as possible.

"We've committed to offering the services here in the summer," said project manager for Parks Canada in P.E.I. Chantelle MacDonald.

"We're going to try to keep the construction to a minimum. So there will be very little construction going on here in July and August."

Phase 1

The first stage of the project includes converting the theatre into a new orientation centre, an addition to the barn which will house the gift shop, and replacing the wood shingles on the barn.

There will also be several temporary structures which will be used as a ticket booth and washroom until the new visitor centre is built next spring.

Chantelle MacDonald, project manager for Parks Canada in P.E.I, says plans for construction were made to affect visitors as little as possible. (Malcolm Campbell/CBC)

The inside of the barn is also being renovated to create gift shop storage space as well as washrooms.

Phase 1 is slated to be complete by mid-June of this year.

Interpretive Elements

MacDonald also said there will be new aspects to the national historic site this summer. 

"A new feature on-site will be the interpretive zone," she said.

The iconic house at Green Gables will undergo renovations as part of phase three of the project, which will make the first floor more accessible. (Malcolm Campbell/CBC)

"Our guided walks, we'll be making ice cream and butter and lots of different activities for visitors to do while they're on site."

This interpretive zone will have a small stage, seating and tents for shade.

Getting up to code

Other interpretive exhibits will be added to the new visitor centre when it is built between this fall and next spring. 

The final phase of the project will include work on the parking lot to create better traffic flow as well as renovations to the first floor of Green Gables house to increase accessibility.

"I'm not sure what those renovations will look like at this point, but they're still in the planning stage," MacDonald said.

The rubble of the old visitor centre sits in front of the addition being built onto the barn. (Malcolm Campbell/CBC)

The front entrance has two steps leading to it which pose a problem, and the doorways need to be widened to get the building up to code.