by Tristan Turner
with files from The Morinville News

Following up with Council on a historical home relocation plan, Murray Knight of the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society gave a presentation on the organization’s interest in a nearly 100-year-old property along 100th Avenue.

Often called the Heppler House, the home was first constructed in 1920 by a Mr. Desantel, who sold it to JC Heppler, a notary public, after the building’s attic had caught fire. Heppler repaired the fire damage and subsequently bricked the home in the late 1920s.

The building and a neighbouring structure will soon make way for a new 15,000 square foot Professional Building, and will be required to be moved to another property if it is to be preserved.

Knight shared with Council that moving the building professionally, and getting a new basement constructed for the building at its new site, would cost approximately $61,290. The figure includes two quotes from McConnell Movers Ltd. and basement construction by Homes by 2 Broz. This figure does not include potential additional costs, including servicing and asbestos removal, among other smaller items.

If the structure is not moved, it will be demolished, but landowner Rick Dozois has committed to commemorating the structure in the new development and offering anything the Museum wants out of the structure.

Mayor Lisa Holmes asked Knight if “there was only one or two building we could save, is this the one?” Knight responded saying that he “honestly doesn’t know,” and that he hopes the Town and the society remain in contact about these potential projects. Knight was keen on the Town potentially developing a new policy to deal with these historically relevant structures in the future, as more similar situations may develop.

Knight also mentioned the possibility of the society operating a new outdoor Museum potentially on the Town’s new 77-Acre plot of land just east of town, earmarked for a new arena and other potential community recreation projects. Potentially this is where the Heppler house could be relocated, and could be the first step in a larger museum project.

Being clear with the Town, Knight said the point of his Apr. 19 visit was to provide info on what the approximate cost of the project would be and to put the ball in the Town’s court. If they wanted to save the structure and move it to Town land, it would cost more than $60,000 to Town taxpayers.

Knight did, during the end of his comments, say, “I’ll just remind you that, when you don’t have a past, you don’t have a future.”

Council did not make any commitments or comments about whether or not they supported moving the home, nor Knight’s vision of a new outdoor museum during the meeting; however, Committee of the Whole is not a decision-making body. The issue may come forward and be discussed with a potential motion at a future regular meeting of Council.

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