In 2014, HCA submitted a heritage application to stabilize the Hermitage Ruins located at 739 Sulphur Springs Road, Ancaster within the Dundas Valley Conservation Area. The Heritage Permit Review Sub-committee and the Hamilton Heritage Municipal Committee were not in favour of the proposal mainly due the amount of heritage building fabric that would be lost. The application was considered by City Council at their meeting on August 15, 2014 at which time they deferred any decision in order to permit additional time for Councilor Ferguson to develop an alternative restoration proposal and funding formula.
Councilor Ferguson quickly put together a restoration proposal with the assistance of
restoration of the three main walls of the Hermitage ruins at their existing height. This proposal was considered by the Hamilton Conservation Authority Board of Directors at their September 4, 2014 meeting and their direction was as follows:
- The previous approval for the stabilization project was rescinded.
- The restoration proposal put together by Rock Solid Natural Masons Ltd. was approved as the preferred option for the restoration of the Hermitage ruins.
- Staff were directed to pursue the required permits to implement the restoration work.
- Staff were directed to enter into contribution agreements and any other agreements with the City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Conservation Foundation to establish a funding relationship between the HCA, the City of Hamilton, and private donors with $200K from the HCA, $200K from the City, and the balance from donations.
- Staff were directed to enter into detailed discussions with Rock Solid to finalize the scope of work and cost estimates for the consideration of final contractual arrangements by the Board of Directors.
On January 12, 2015, the Board of Directors approved entering into a contract with Rock Solid Natural Stone Masons Ltd. for $460K plus applicable taxes for the Hermitage ruins restoration works outlined in this application. Sufficient funds have been secured to undertake the restoration of the Hermitage Ruins in accordance with
the HCA approved preferred option. Additional fundraising is ongoing and these funds will support contingencies, archeological works and the implementation of a unifying landscape plan. The landscape plan also addresses improvements to public access, circulation, education, and interpretative features that support expanded programming opportunities that the restoration works will present.
The significant elements of this proposal include a complete and accurate rebuild of the main front wall and the two sidewalls to the full height which will result in a structure that will have no visible external supports and can be safely visited by the general public.
To accomplish this objective all the remaining walls will be dismantled including the rock foundation. A new engineered concrete foundation will be excavated and built for the three walls along with a supporting steel infrastructure that will not be visible. The former outside walls will be faced the existing cut stone in their original location. The interior walls will be re-faced with rubble stone supplied from the existing walls, the out building walls and a supply of rubble stone that is currently stockpiled in the east hedgerow. This approach provides a structure that will have a new foundation, an internal supporting steel skeleton and a significantly extended life span beyond that anticipated in previous options. The remaining ruin wall will be retained at a safe height.