Essex, ON – A small group of dignitaries gathered to break ground for the new Heritage Centre at the John R. Park Homestead today, exactly six months after the Government of Canada announced a $600,000 grant for the project.
The new Heritage Centre will enhance the educational and cultural experiences for all who visit. It will feature an adequate, climate-controlled creative commons for students of all ages, a significantly enhanced exhibit space, an outdoor classroom space and accessible and expanded washroom facilities. A $100,000 contribution will create the Town of Essex Tourism Hub as part of the Heritage Centre.
The Stephanie and Barry Zekelman Foundation generously made the lead campaign contribution with a donation of $100,000 to create the Stephanie and Barry Zekelman Foundation Welcome Centre. In total, thanks to donations from dozens supporters in the community, $1,050,000 of $1.2 million campaign goal been raised, with several more fundraising activities planned for the coming months.
Designed by local architectural firm Architecttura Inc., construction will be undertaken by Gulf Developments of Maidstone.
Built in 1842, the Homestead is the only living agricultural museum west of London. It has twice received the distinction of being voted the best museum or heritage space in Windsor-Essex and was awarded the Russell K. Cooper Award as the best living history museum in Ontario.
“Our government is delighted to support ERCA’s vision to preserve and showcase our region’s history and natural beauty. We are investing $600,000 to help build a new John R. Park Homestead Heritage Centre that will serve as a safe, accessible learning space for young people in Windsor-Essex for generations to come.”
– MP Irek Kusmierczyk, MP Windsor-Tecumseh
“As a destination for thousands of visitors from our region and beyond, the John R. Park Homestead is an incredible asset to our community. The Heritage Centre represents a continued investment in sharing our community’s past with future generations, while expanding accessibility to meet the needs of all visitors. The Town of Essex is proud to support this project and we look forward to sharing all that our community has to offer at our new Tourism Hub.”
-Mayor Larry Snively, Town of Essex
“While we were forced to make radical and rapid changes to almost everything we do in these past months, what’s remained constant is the history that the John R. Park Homestead represents, and the community’s value of this special place. We are so grateful to the project’s many supporters who have helped this vision become a reality.”
-Councillor Sue Desjarlais, ERCA Board Member
“Preserving our region’s heritage is one of the key focus areas for the Essex Region Conservation Foundation. We are so thankful to the many supporters who have demonstrated their love of the John R. Park Homestead, and whose contributions will allow this beautiful, accessible and innovative Heritage Centre to be built for all to experience.”
-Claire Wales, Vice President, Essex Region Conservation Foundation