Historic Campbell house will face the wrecking ball

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The historic farm house at AW Campbell Conservation Area

The home of Archie Campbell will be demolished.

The fate of the historic farm house at Alvinston’s AW Campbell Conservation Area has been hanging in the balance since Oct. 2021. The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority said the long-neglected home of the man who donated the land for the park is beyond repair and planned to demolish it in 2021. The decision was put on hold after Friends of Campbell Park formed. It hoped to save the home built in 1867 which was home to the Campbell Family until Archie died. He willed and over 300 acres it to a newly formed conservation authority for a park.

After waiting two years for the group to take action, SCRCA board members agreed to ask Brooke-Alvinston for a demolition permit. But the request was turned down by Brooke-Alvinston council. That prompted the SCRCA’s board to say it would seek to overturn the decision at the Ontario Land Tribunal.

In November, Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Dave Ferguson, the Adminstrator, Janet Denkers, two members of the Friends of Campbell Park and SCRCA officials met to talk about the issue where the conservation laid out the costs to keep the aging building standing.

The authority said it would cost over a half million dollars to repair and maintain the building without public access and over $1.3 million to turn the building into a museum in the future- both ideas floated by Friends of Campbell Park. The conservation authority said Brooke-Alvinston would have to foot all of those bills.

Just days after the meeting, council again denied the building permit.

Thursday, in a meeting that lasted less than five minutes, councillors agreed to issue the building permit. Councillors Jenny Redick and Craig Sanders reversed their previous support to keep the building standing.

Deputy Mayor Frank Nemcek said it was clear “where this is going” and wanted to make sure there would recognition of the Campbell Family left in the park.

Administrator Janet Denkers said the County of Lambton wants to work with the conservation authority to recover any of the historic artifacts left in the building. There is also a desire to apply for a Creative County grant to give formal recognition of the family for visitors to see in the coming years.

Council called for that recognition in the formal motion which granted approval for the home to be demolished.

It’s not clear when it will come down.