By Ryan McGreal
Published July 05, 2011
The City of Hamilton's Community Services Department, Culture Division has begun renovations at St. Mark's Church to stabilize the foundation, demolish an attached Sunday School and complete roof and gutter repairs.
Sign in front of St. Mark's Church at Bay and Hunter announcing Stabilization plan
City workers have already cleared the overgrown vegetation around the building and will be completing the roof and gutter work in July. At the end of the month, the City will issue a public tender call for the rest of the work.
Anna Bradford, the culture division director, explained in an email that the work will entail:
A. Structural foundation repairs to the church from the basement interior with new concrete bench footings. Work will include complete removal of the basement interior finishes.
B. Demolition (by dismantling) of the Sunday School, with a new gravel car park in its place.
C. Exterior brick masonry restoration to the buttresses and bottom 3 feet of the church perimeter.
D. New treatments to window openings.
E. Interior clean up of the church.
The Church was built in 1878, and the Sunday School was added in 1925. The City bought the property in July 1994 for $425,000 and subsequently designated the building and its adjacent open space under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act in 1995.
The building has been derelict and in limbo ever since, as the City has considered how best to use it. A Site Potential [PDF] report commissioned in February 2004 lists six options for the property:
Adaptive reuse of existing structure for residential, commercial, mixed use. The building would have a lobby that opens into a parking lot on the north side and would have three units.
Adaptive reuse of existing structure and construction of new three-storey addition on the west side of the existing building.
Adaptive reuse of existing structure and construction of a new three-storey addition northwest of the building behind the parking lot.
Demolition of existing structure and construction of a new three-storey residential building with four units on the south side of the property.
Demolition of existing structure and construction of a new three-storey residential building with units on the south and east sides of the property.
Demolition of existing structure to create a neighbourhood park.
There was no action on the building until October 2008, when the Economic Development and Planning Committee directed staff to determine possible uses for the site.
A June 2010 city report [PDF] recommended that Culture Division staff consider the feasibility of the St. Mark's building as a "cultural programming space to be administered by Whitehern Historic House and Garden staff".
It estimates a $350,000 price to demolish the Sunday School, but notes that the DePasquale Family Foundation and Copper Cliff Mills and Wrecking Corporation offered $80,000 in in-kind donations toward the demolition.
The work currently being conducted on the building is the first capital expenditure on the property since the city braced the west wall in 1995.