The town has given its notice of intent to designate 208 Jasper Street as a municipal heritage property under the Saskatchewan Heritage Property Act.
The retail and apartment building has an interesting history in the community. Built around 1915, it originally housed the Lawrence Brick Factory, which was located on the 100 block of Cypress Street where the SaskTel building and Seniors’ Centre are currently located.
It took a remarkable feat of engineering to move the building from that location to where it now stands. It is presumed the building was moved there in the early 1920s by horses, as land title records show the building’s owner, W.F. Lawrence, acquired its current location in 1921-22.
Main Street Program co-ordinator and local historian Royce Pettyjohn recalled that while he has seen a photograph of the building being moved, neither the Oldtimers’ Museum nor the Jasper Centre seem to have a photograph of it.
“There’s a number of people in the community that remember the photograph and the story of the building being moved. The folklore… is that the building was moved by horses, and that wasn’t uncommon during that period of time. People tended to move buildings around a lot more than they tend to today,” he said, adding the Anglican Church is another example of this, as it was built in 1887 where the Bank of Montreal now sits. The church was moved up the street by horses in 1908 to its current location.
Pettyjohn noted if anyone has photographs of the significant move they would be of interest.
Why the Lawrence Brick Factory building was moved is still unclear, Pettyjohn said. It is also unknown exactly when the brick factory closed.
After the move, the building was re-purposed to retail, serving as Brian’s Variety Store, the Saan Store, Consumer Mart and eventually Hometown Video.
Pettyjohn said the heritage designation will be an honour.
“It lends some distinction to the building to be designated a municipal heritage property,” he stated. “And in addition to that, it provides the property owner with the opportunity to seek funding through the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation.”
The new owners of the property, Blaine Filthaut and his brother Terry who lives in Houston, Texas, have big plans of transforming it into a fine arts gallery.
Blaine, a local artist, saw the building as the perfect location for opening the Broken Spoke Fine Art Gallery.
“It’s a great looking building… and I’d been keeping an eye out on how to promote art further in Maple Creek,” he explained.
With over 4,000 square feet, the historic building will provide the perfect space and atmosphere for higher-end art to be on display and up for sale.
The entire main floor will be gutted with the exception of the former location of the Hair Barn, which will be converted to a tourist shop. The floors will be stripped down to the original hardwood, and the tin ceiling will be retained. Fluorescent lighting will be replaced with LED lighting.
The gallery will only have up to nine artists’ work on display.
“We’re going to try to promote primarily Saskatchewan and especially southwest artists,” Blaine said. “With Maple Creek being developed as the hub (of the Southwest), we think that this is a great opportunity to have a high-end art gallery right here.”
The five-suite apartment building will also incorporate an artist-in-residence studio.
Blaine noted the art gallery isn’t intended to take away from other places for people to view and purchase art, but rather add to the arts community.
The owners will also be participating in the Main Street Program to complete facade restoration. Work is expected to begin in the spring.
“Because we do have a little bit of funding still within the pilot, we were able to allocate some pilot program money for the building,” explained Pettyjohn.
The pilot program wraps up next year. Work is being completed on the projects over the winter and spring, with the program coming to a close in the summer to allow for paperwork to be completed.
But more Main Street funding could be used on other projects in the future, as the province has made it a permanent program.
Blaine intends to have the windows replaced and some masonry work done, but he said for the most part the building is solid. The awning will be replaced, and transom windows brought back.
He expects the tourist shop will be open early next year. A timeline for the gallery has not been determined, but Blaine said it could be the spring or summer.