Fergus Theatre gets designation

The theatre that attracted plaudits from some of Hollywood’s moguls and stars when it opened in the late 1920s now has a heritage designation.

Centre Wellington council, it its committee of the whole on March 14, agreed to the designation of the Fergus Grand Theatre. The decision was ratified when council passed a bylaw on Monday night.

Sam Fardella built it in 1928 according to a report by Linda Lonsdale, of Heritage Centre Wellington. She said the stone foundation and exterior of the structure remain “relatively unchanged.”

She added, “The original tin ceiling, transom windows, an terrazzo floor in the lobby and on the front entrance to the building are still intact.”

Fardella replaced a barn when he erected a theatre to show movies. Hollywood’s Louis B. Mayer send a telegram to Fergus wishing Fardella success.

With the designation, the plan is to protect all exterior stone walls, including the decorative columns and “chimney” on the front facade; the wooden overhang facing St. Andrew Street; the tin ceiling in the main theatre area; the terrazzo floors in the lobby and extending outside, including the steps; the leaded transom windows in the lobby; and the wood framing detail that was the original front door frame in the lobby area.

Councillor Walt Visser had a problem with protecting the steps at the front of the theatre.

“Someday in the future, I would like that building to be accessible,” he said.

The Ontario government is enforcing that wish, and all government owned buildings must be accessible by 2025.

Chief Building Inspector Bob Foster told Visser, “I believe the intent is to have the side door barrier free.”

Visser said he would feel more comfortable if the section and words dealing with the steps would be left out. He has sat for several years on the county accessibility committee

Parks and Recreation Director Andy Goldie said there will be access at the side of the building. He said the committee had “the feeling that you can’t make [the front facade] attractive and accessible.”

He added that the plan is to have an accessible entrance at the side of the building, near the parking lot.

Council voted in favour of the designation, with Visser opposed.

On Monday night, council ratified its decision.