To the Editor:
I had a two hour talk with former Bruce County Museum Director Barbara Ribey. She was at the Museum for over 30 years and now has retired. I have worked for her as a volunteer for years. Full disclosure encourages me to note that she nominated me and I received Museum National Volunteer of the year award a few years ago. Much of the credit for this is attributable to her, the staff and the former Mayor and Warden Mark Kraemer for allowing me to work on many interesting projects. The volunteers at the Museum are talented and dedicated.
Barbara knew the Krugs personally as benefactors and conservationists of the environment.
My first question for her was:
Has anyone contacted you about the Anglican Church Manse? Answer No.
Did you expect calls from the County Lawyers or the fledgling conservancy group representatives who have filed an injunction to block demolition of the Manse?
Answer “Yes I expected a call in fact I was forewarned by others in the town to expect a call. There has not been much effort put into research of the BCM&A’s past history. I also ask if the Executor of Mr. Krug’s Estate has been contacted.
I am also surprised that the first full-time Curator was not approached. It was Mr. Breede who rescued the Museum and the Archives in 1978. Claus knew Bruce and Howard well. Bruce County was very close to losing this jewel in the 70’s. Mr. Breede was also involved in the 2002-2005 Museum expansion under the company name of Canadian Cultural Resources Consultants Inc.”
Why do you think the new group have not contacted you since you were in charge of the Museum at the time of the Krug’s major donations and interactions with the Museum?
“I do not have an answer to this. I also wonder why County officials did not contact me.
I had known both Howard and Bruce for many years, Bruce for approximately 30 years. In fact I worked with the Krugs back in the 80s when we conducted a feasibility study to determine if the Krug Bros. Furniture factory in Chesley could be retrofitted to a working museum.”
Did the Krug Brothers want anything special for the Museum?
“Bruce’s passion was for the Archives, not the Museum even though the family had donated some very significant artifacts to the Museum.
We would talk about his collection and over the years (and over many BCM&A feasibility studies) about the future of his collection and Archives development. He had some interesting thoughts on its location. Bruce also sat on the Museum Committee for many years.
Bruce was a very intelligent, shy and soft spoken man. He never insisted on anything but I would always bring it up in our conversations how his family would/could be recognized for their contributions in the new expansion/renovation. I did talk about Krug family naming opportunities for the Archives/Reading Room which he liked. He felt that his brothers were deserving of this. (Wilfred also left the Museum a substantial donation in the early 1970’s and a new modern wing was built and opened in 1975). Today, there are portraits of the three brothers, Wilfred, Howard and Bruce in the Reading Room commemorating them.”
Why do you disagree with using the Manse for archival storage and/or artifacts?
Answer: “First of all it is not my intention to intrude but to only shed a little light on the subject so here it goes.
First of all, a portion of the 1878 school building was re-purposed for archives storage (stacks room) due to the fact we had to work within the confines of the existing footprint. Even though the Architect did an exceptional job converting this space I will admit… it was not the perfect solution. Let this be a lesson learned about the Archives and where it is situated today. It was very expensive to retrofit and I would not recommend spending more money on yet another retrofit for the Archives.
I have been told that it is or has been considered to re-purpose the Manse for archives storage use. The floor loads in a stacks room are huge and ideally should be on ground level and in a new building if at all possible. From a HVAC standpoint it is not as much about the heating and cooling as it is to maintain constant relative humidity within the old brick building. This really drives the expenses up. An Archives consultant would be a good contact to make. The Manse could be repurposed for administration use or possibly other uses with a complete interior gutting (Please do not make it into a museum. I won’t get into it here)
The town of Southampton has some beautiful examples of Victorian/Edwardian architecture. I am not sure under what section the Manse could be designated as a heritage or historical structure. I expect it would not qualify.
The Manse property is sitting on some of the best real estate as it provides visibility for the Museum off High Street. The possibilities are endless and so very exciting. It is now owned by the County and that was an excellent move on their part. The Museum/Archives needs this land if it wants to flourish and grow. The land purchase was discussed in the Sears and Russell study in the late 80’s. I have my opinion on how the BCM&A should expand as do many others in the community/county. I will keep that to myself.
I only want to help move the BCM&A forward with their plans. This is why I agreed to talk to my friend Mike.