Phase 1 of Province House restoration moving into the home stretch

The first phase to restore and renovate historic Province House, site of the first meeting of the Fathers of Confederation is entering its final stages.

Work has included the removal of historic features and site stabilization

The $47 million renovation of Province House is expected to be completed in 2020-2021. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The first of three phases to restore and renovate historic Province House, site of the first meeting of the Fathers of Confederation is moving right along.

Quinan Construction Ltd., the lead contractor, has been busy working on the exterior of the 170-year-old building for the past seven months, conducting site stabilization, excavating around the building to allow access to the foundation, and removing slate roof tiles.

"We're about finishing some of the Phase 1 work here now on the interior of the building and getting some exoskeleton put up around the outside, really readying the building for the next phase of the work," said Greg Shaw, project manager for Parks Canada.

The legislature is barely recognizable with all the original stonework revealed. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Phase 1 has also included peeling back layers on the the inside of the building, removing some elements from inside the building such as basement flooring, mechanical and electrical systems, windows, and plaster work.

Decades of water damage have taken a toll on the three storey structure.

"Overall, the walls are in generally in not bad condition, and that's part of one of the benefits of doing this Phase 1 work," Shaw explained. "It's allowed us to open up a bit more of the walls themselves."

The original stone wall inside the legislature has been exposed. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

'Meticulous work'

The historic features inside Province House such as columns, pilasters, ceiling medallions, arches, wood sashed windows and central staircase have been carefully preserved throughout the stabilization phase.

Shaw said some of the heritage elements of the building that can be protected in place have been wrapped in bubble wrap and then encased in plywood.

A steel exoskeleton is being erected around Province House to prepare for Phase 2. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Other items have been diligently wrapped, tagged and put in storage in an 8,000-square-foot warehouse.

"There's baseboards, there's trim around a lot of the doors, all of the windows have all been removed, catalogued, taken to the storage facility," Shaw said.

The Confederation Chamber, site of the Charlottetown Conference, looks very different today than it did in 1864. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"They've taken some of the medallions down, as well as the large arch behind the chair. Very slow, meticulous work, but I can say it's come out without a hitch and nothing broken."

Phase 2

The $28.4 million contract for construction management services for Phase 2 of the project was awarded in October to PCL Constructors Ltd.

Work is scheduled to begin in early spring.

Some elements of Province House such as baseboards, trim and windows, have been removed, catalogued and taken to a storage facility. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"We have the foundation, we have the walls and the roof are the three major pieces that we'll be looking at, and it's the consolidation of the walls to make sure that they're tight, similar with the foundation, and to make sure the roof is tight," Shaw said. 

Stabilization work has taken place in every corner of the building including in the basement. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"People may say there doesn't seem to be a whole lot done, there's a lot that has been done and this is getting it ready for that second phase," he added.

Phase 2 of the renovation and restoration of Province House is scheduled to begin in early spring. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

It will still be some time before people are able to visit Province House. It's not scheduled to re-open to the public until 2020 or 2021.