When I travelled along Main Street in Bath, after moving here about four years ago, I noticed an almost derelict and unappealing structure on the corner of Main and Church. It seemed that every time I passed it there were one or maybe two people working feverishly on the building.
After a few inquiries I found out that it was known as the Ham House. This historic timber frame building was constructed in 1816 and the people working on it were most likely Ron Tasker and his wife Bonnie Crook.
I often thought that I should stop and ask if they needed help, but being an enthusiastic DIY’er probably didn’t qualify me as a valuable asset to what I soon saw as an extensive restoration.
Back in 2010 Ron & Bonnie became aware that Loyalist Township was moving to de-designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act with the pretense it was in poor condition and heritage designation was somehow obstructing the ability of the owner to make repairs.
De-designation would likely have lead to its swift demolition. After purchasing the property and saving it from almost certain demolition Ron & Bonnie opposed the Townships de-designation proposal and set about the restoration of the Ham House.
With a business model in place, Ron & Bonnie identified a pub/restaurant as an ideal re-purposing of the building. This would allow the public to experience both the dramatic exterior and spectacular surviving store and residence within. Such a restoration and re-purposing would also act as a catalyst to commercial activity in the core of the old village. More importantly, it could lead to the restoration of other War of 1812-era buildings which still survive in Bath.
Well in to the restoration project Loyalist Township presented a transition fee from a triplex to a pub/restaurant. This was a whopping $50,727.91.
This was more than 35% of what they had paid for the property and was on top of many development fees that had already been paid. Through discussion the fees were reduced to about $25,000, more in-line with surrounding municipalities, but this is still a considerable amount of money considering the size of the project.
This is where we can all help Ron & Bonnie.
They have initiated a campaign to raise the municipal fees through crowd funding. If you believe in the importance of our heritage buildings and would like to see more vitality at the centre of Bath, please support the Ham House restoration project by donating to Ron & Bonnie’s crowd funding initiative.
Even very small contributions are greatly appreciated:
Click Here to go to the GoFundMe webpage.