A Conundrum for the Charles Macdonald House Museum
By Fred Macdonald, Director
The Charles Macdonald Concrete House
The Charles Macdonald House of Centreville Society has had a good run.
In 1997 the Society was formed by a group of interested citizens keen to preserve and celebrate the lifeworks of Charles and Mabel Macdonald. The grand opening was an event held at the Concrete House in Centreville and featured the Lieutenant Governor, musical entertainment, and dignitaries from far and wide.
In the early years, The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, who had mounted an exhibit of Charlie and Mabel’s work in the 1980s, were very supportive, offering help with fundraising activities that raised the society’s visibility considerably. There were golf tournaments, antique shows, the yearly Captain’s Dinner and silent auctions. They were busy times.
But that’s all changed. Interest in the Society has waned and there are only a few tired board members remaining.
On the bright side, the Society is asset-rich, with The Blue Cottage and beachfront property at Huntington Point on the Bay of Fundy, the original Concrete House in Centreville, and a substantial repatriated collection of the works of Charles and Mabel Macdonald: paintings, watercolours, photographs, sculptures and more.
For 22 years, the society has employed summer students to
tour the public through Charlie and Mabel’s legacy and exhibits of works
by local Valley artists.
We’ve become an attraction on the route to one of the province’s busiest attractions: Halls Harbour. The sad part is that there is neither expertise nor energy to properly assert the Charles Macdonald Concrete House into the North Kings’ tourism mix.
The Society is a longstanding member of the Association of Nova Scotia Museums. It receives a modest grant from Nova Scotia’s Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. We understand that the province’s funding rationale is currently being reviewed and allotments will now be determined by a new evaluation system. We don’t know what it means for the future.
Our current fundraising effort consists of donations and providing holidays at The Blue Cottage. Though we’ve been able to retire the loan on The Blue Cottage and property at Huntington Point, we are still owing on the Concrete House in Centreville.
Recently, due to a request from our insurance company, we’ve had the Concrete House roof inspected. It’s been determined that the roof needs repair. We are currently seeking quotes for that work and needless to say, it exerts pressures we hadn’t prepared for.
This all begs big questions:
-Is there local interest to rebuild the Society and make it more community based?
-Is there local expertise to employ our not so insignificant assets toward self-sustainability?
-Is there a local business that might see the benefit of a relationship with the Society?
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