Sunday, January 2, 2011

Aid for the Aeolian

The Aeolian Hall needs a new roof. Director Clark Bryan is asking City Council's Finance and Administration Committee for $80,000 to augment the $10,000 in donations he's received directly from the public.

This building has a long and diverse history. It was built in 1884 on the southwest corner of Dundas and Rectory as London East Town Hall. It didn't remain a town hall for very long though; London East was annexed by the city the following year. Strangely for London, the fact that the building could no longer be used for its original purpose didn't result in it being torn down. A crowning example of adaptive reuse, over the years the hall has been used as a fire station and a Public Library branch among other things. For many years now it's been a performance hall, providing an excellent venue for classical music events. An especially memorable concert was Scott St. John's appearance in December 1997, headlining a group of London chamber musicians paying a tribute to Franz Schubert.

Some might say supplying a new roof for a heritage builing shouldn't be part of City Hall's mandate. But when it's not just heritage at stake, but also the performing arts, London really needs to cough up the cash. The "east end" has been looking after its "town hall" for a good long time and the city needs to continue the trend.

1 comment:

  1. Is it just my imagination (or maybe my inadequate knowledge of period architecture) but doesn't it seem that the building is unfinished? It always appears to me that its 'tower' was not properly completed. Maybe the original Old East London Town Council ran out of money when it was built to serve as a City Hall? Mabe it sustained some later damage and was never repaired?

    Nevertheless, the building looks to me rather ugly without a finished tower, (or is it called a campanella (s.p))?

    From evry angle on the outside, the building seems like it has serious aesthetic and proportion flaws. And from all sides in the inside, I just can't believe it was worthy of preservation. And if worthy of preservation, then why not full authentic restoration? Even the roof should be replaced with slate and copper elements just like was done with the restoration of the old Toronto City Hall a couple of decades ago,(wasn't it I think built in the same time period as the Aeolian?)

    Also,when a new roof is installed who will decide if it is worthy of public funding if say cheap, ugly materials are used?

    If we are so desperate the "preserve" anything that is "old" in this town why isn't anyone upset at not preserving residential buildings that were built at the same time as the Aeolian and situated in the radius around it. Are vernacular working-class buildings of the "period" not as valuable? (I guess not: especially if the Western Fair dictates that they stand in the way of their expanding need to swallow them up, (with tax-payer dollars), and lay to waste more than two dozen homes (and counting) over the years in the name of asphalt.

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