BARENEED, NL — A local heritage group has big plans for a pair of noteworthy properties in Bareneed.
The Port de Grave Peninsula Heritage Society recently finalized a deal to purchase the deconsecrated St. Mark's Anglican Church in Bareneed and the former St. Mark's School building from the Diocesan Synod of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. The value of the transactions was $1.
"I think from our perspective, we've accomplished a great deal in the last two years," heritage society chairman Roland Andrews told the Compass.
Indeed, it was two years ago that the group first heard some rumblings about the Anglican diocese possibly labeling the two buildings as surplus properties.
"Our board of directors, we looked into it and gave lots of discussion about it, and subsequently we submitted a proposal to the diocese, and as they say, the rest is history," said Andrews. "I think the ideas that we had for the infrastructure and the facilities were appreciated by those who were members of the congregation here at St. Mark's in Bareneed. They were very gracious in supporting us."
For the 91-year-old church, the society is in talks with Parks Canada and Canadian Coast Guard alumni to create a museum unique to Atlantic Canada and dedicated to marine activity.
"Sustainability will be our biggest challenge," said Andrews. "We recognize that we can't just do what somebody else has done. Albeit, we're not going to reinvent the wheel."
Some artifacts belonging to coast guard alumni are already being moved to St. Luke's Hall, where they will be cleaned.
The group is also looking to reconfigure the church's interior to accommodate lectures and performances. A provincial government grant has allowed the society to hire a few workers to look after minor improvements. Andrews said both buildings are in pretty solid shape, despite their age.
The old schoolhouse, built in 1912 and more recently used as a church hall, may eventually become an eatery for people coming to the area. Andrews hopes to find an entrepreneur willing to lease the space for that purpose.
"When you would come here, we would either look at an operation that's conducted ourselves or we would look at leasing the facility once we get it up to scratch … providing some meals and basically hoping to get tour buses to come here, and from here, we will start them on the tour of the entire peninsula."
church was deconsecrated in the spring of this year, and the heritage society accessed the old school as a meeting space and venue for social events before the purchase was even made.
The heritage society is currently fundraising to support all this work and show potential funding partners that it's serious about these plans. A dinner in the fall generated $30,000 in one night, and the group is staging a Christmas concert at St. Mark's Church Dec. 15 featuring Bruce Templeton (aka. The Man in the Red Suit), local country group Forever Young, brass ensemble Fog Horns and the Salvation Army Choristers. Admission for the event is $20.
Beyond these two properties, the Port de Grave Peninsula Heritage Society is also in talks with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans about possibly taking ownership of the lighthouse at Green Point. Formally in existence since the early 1990s, the society presently looks after a fisheries museum schoolhouse and the Porter House in Hibb's Cove.