The Old Stone Gallery, Greensville, Ontario, Canada


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January 11th 2006
Fire breaks out at The Old Stone Gallery

  • Disaster strikes!

Fires aren't always caused by careless disposal of matches or cigarette butts. Whatever the cause, the results can be disastrous and can affect more than just the bricks and mortar of a building.

In January 2006, just as a new photographic and art studio was to open on the main floor, there was a fire caused through improper storage of cleaning rags by a ground floor tenant.

Fortunately the local fire brigade arrived swiftly and the main structure of the building was saved, but the smoke and water damage has meant a total refit of the interior of the gallery. Smoke from a fire is pervasive and the pressure that builds up in a fire causes the smoke and fumes to be forced into every nook and cranny.

The two buildings housed several tenants, who arrived to find their office equipment and personal property along with stock and customers' goods, damaged by smoke or water. Even though the main effects of the fire itself were confined to the front of the stone building, every room on every floor was affected.

It was fortunate that the firemen hung around for a while as, whilst inspecting the second floor, I noticed smoke curling up from under beams near a window, so they were able to come up and douse the embers. The fire started in a small cupboard under the stairs on the main floor, just opposite the front door, and the fire insinuated itself under the floor and attacked a main support joist.

The tenants removed or threw out their damaged property, filed insurance claims and set up elsewhere. I was left with an empty building, no tenants and no rental income.

I come from the U.K. where we take pride in our old buildings. I have often found in Canada there is an attitude of "Oh, it's only an old building. Let's knock it down and put up something new". European cities attract the tourists because they preserve their old buildings and they become tourist attractions in themselves. For anyone in the Hamilton, Ontario area, you have only to talk about the Lister Block to realise how neglectful people are with historic properties. In this picture, beautiful honey coloured pine panelling lining two rooms was destroyed.

Looking at the fire damaged Gallery - and you can check some of the post-fire photos here, I had every opportunity to cut my losses, demolish the building, and give the site over to residential development. I could not, in all conscience, do this . The Gallery, which is the last complete mill building left from the Crooks Hollow industrial era, deserves to survive, arise like a phoenix from the ashes, and stand for another 160 years.


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