CLOVERDALE – The $10.3-million Museum of Surrey expansion will officially begin on July 31, and while news of the construction isn’t new, a historical addition to the project is.
The 126-year-old Anniedale School and the 1881 Townhall will be relocated to the site, a report to Surrey City Council Monday night revealed.
The Anniedale School, originally built on Townline Road (96th Avenue) and 182nd Street in 1891, is the oldest school still standing in Surrey. It’s listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places and was dedicated to the children of Surrey in 1987. The townhall is in the registry as well.
The plan is to relocate the buildings on the east side of 56A Avenue, in what is now the museum parking lot, museum manager Lynn Saffery told the Now-Leader.
“They not only have to be moved here but we have to redo electrical and plumbing, we have to make sure the inside is safe, because we want to preserve Anniedale School as a school room,” Saffery said.
“That can be used as a rentable community space, an extra program room for school programs, and a space where we can have special events or have it as a space for seniors,” he said.
The relocation of the Anniedale School is something the Surrey Historical Society (SHS) has fought for.
Last year, SHS President Michael Gibbs told the Now-Leader that they wanted the building preserved and that it was “rotting away” and “not being maintained.”
It currently sits on a lot at the edge of 176th Street and Highway 1.
“We’re concerned about the damp, mold, vandalism… Then there’s the accessibility of it,” he explained at the time.
But the move didn’t initially appear in the cards.
The fate of the building depended on a $17,000 structural assessment ordered by the city, to see if it could withstand a move.
Councillor Dave Woods, Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission chair, said Monday that the results were positive.
“The building itself is in very good shape,” he said. “The building was moved a few years ago from its original location and moved to a site by Tynehead. And it’s got the steel underneath of it when it was moved so it is still intact and it’s been maintained.”
But things are still a bit complicated, Woods explained.
While the school district has sold the property it sits on, the agreement has a “long completion date,” according to district spokesman Doug Strachan.
“City staff is negotiating and we’ve got pretty good preliminary indications from the school board,” Woods said. “It’s complicated because the city has sold, technically, the land and the buildings. We do want to try and get the co-operation of everyone.”
The city will spend close to $10 million on the expansion project; another $377,269 will come from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Woods said the city has applied for another $5 million in federal funding for the projects, and have “really positive indications” from some Surrey MPs.
The SHS will be understandably thrilled if the buildings move to the site.
“The school is amazing,” Gibbs told the Now-Leader last year. “That was what education was like for the first 25, 30 years of this community’s existence.”
Gibbs said it’s a “living museum right down to the slate boards, desks and bell on its roof.”
While relocation plans are worked out, museum expansion will soon be ramping up.
The project will add 12,000 square feet of space to the existing city-owned facility, which is 24,000 square feet in size and was built in 2005.
The city anticipates the museum will be closed for construction from July 31 to September 2018.
Museum manager Saffery said the big question was, “If we’re closed, how are we going to reach people?”
Essentially, museum staff will travel around the city to community celebrations, special event and public programs.
“So a lot of the education programs we do in the museum we are rewriting, so education staff can go into the schools to provide them,” explained Saffery. “We also have a portable kids gallery that we’ll be moving to different spaces in the city.”
Safety could hardly contain his excitement for the expanded museum.
“This turns Surrey’s museum into a really significant landmark for the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley,” he noted.
Saffery said he’s excited not just about the building, but what staff can do with the expansion.
“It will include back-of-house functional needs, like a fabrication workshop, expanded collection storage, some staff and volunteer space,” Saffery explained. “All that is what the public doesn’t see, but the fun stuff is really the (Kids Explore Zone) gets expanded, tripled in size, and we’ll also have a 2,500-square-foot feature gallery space – a black box, basically, either for travelling exhibits for rent or ones that we curate ourselves.”
Earlier this year the city revealed a new museum logo and name – Museum of Surrey – which was the result of a “visioning and missioning process,” according to Saffery.
“We really want to stress that we are not just a dynamic and fun museum, but we are a museum that connects the people of Surrey with the stories of Surrey,” he said.
The new building and logo was created by HCMA Architecture + Design, a Vancouver-based firm.
The expansion will include atrium space for cultural celebrations, community gatherings and special-event receptions.
Saffery is also excited about the historic buildings being relocated to the site.
“The neat thing is there will be the museum and the museum expansion but the whole space, the whole area from the library almost to the corner, we’re going to have a heritage park, with Anniedale School and the 1881 Townhall. There’s the potential for some heritage gardening in the future – not right away, but the idea is then people can come and they can wander through a heritage park, take a ride on the railway, go to Cloverdale Coffee Co., come to the archives and buy a legacy book, it’s going to be awesome.
“It also raises the profile of not just Surrey but Cloverdale, as sort of a heritage precinct. A place for tourists,” Saffery elaborated. “Anyone who comes to B.C., they’ll know you don’t just go to Fort Langley or Gastown, but you go to Cloverdale.”
With files from Tom Zillich