Elevators And Exteriors

Two contracts linked to Phase II of the restoration project were signed this week. The first contract deals with the complex issue of our custom-built elevator. After months and years of negotiating with government authorities for funding, and with the manufacturers for the best possible price, we finally came to an agreement. Menuiserie Pouliot, who worked with us in the spring, should complete work on this project by summer 2009. The second contract deals with all the work on the exterior of the building. This includes everything from broken windows to our service entrance, not to mention the security exits at the back. Maçonnerie dynamique will complete this work and should begin in early March 2009.

Restoration Project

The LHSQ is presently restoring the heritage site that will house the Morrin Centre, a cultural portal designed to educate the public about the historic contribution and present-day culture of English-speaking communities in Quebec City. Originally designed as a gaol by François Baillairgé in 1808, the building was transformed to house the LHSQ and Morrin College by architect Joseph-Ferdinand Peachy. In 1989, the City of Quebec acquired the building in order to restore this heritage monument. The English-speaking community of Quebec met with mayor Jean-Paul L’Allier and the idea of creating a cultural centre was born. Important restoration of the exterior facade, as well as significant archeological digs, took place in 1992-1993. This work was financed by all three levels of government. Further work led to the creation of the chaussée des Écossais, the Scottish Causeway, at the turn of the millennium, a wonderfully landscaped promenade in front of the building. In October 2000, the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec took on the management of the cultural centre project. An important amount of work has been invested since then in terms of fundraising and planning for the eventual centre. Staffing has progressed from four employees to over a dozen. Funding for the project is being supplied by all levels of government, several foundations, businesses, and devoted individuals. The City of Quebec has shown its commitment to the Society’s project by turning over the heritage building to us on December 7, 2004 through the signing of a 99-year lease. The Morrin Centre is one of the major projects now in preparation for the celebrations of Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary in 2008. This new cultural resource developed by the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec is supported by, and dedicated to, the citizens of Québec, its visitors, and the descendants of the many families that have once called this place their home. Funding for this project is being provided by the Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec, the City of Quebec and various private sources. Restoration Project Update Stay up to date on the restoration of our heritage site by consulting the project update below.

François Baillairgé (1759-1830)

Born in Quebec, François Baillairgé studied for two years at the school of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in Paris. The first part of his career was devoted largely to religious sculpture and painting. Several of his works can be seen at the church of Saint-François on Île d’Orléans and at the church of Saint-Joachim. His masterpiece was the decoration of Notre-Dame-de-Québec, which was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1922. Baillairgé also played a major role in introducing neoclassical architecture to Quebec. He is responsible for designing the Quebec City Court House (1799) and Gaol (1808), as well as the gaol in Trois-Rivières (1815). These buildings are among the first to show British influence in Quebec’s architecture. However, Baillairgé states he was equally inspired by the works Frenchman Philibert de l’Orme. Although his two gaols were criticized for their design flaws, they are the first to demonstrate a certain utopian approach to architecture as an instrument of social change.

Joseph-Ferdinand Peachy (1830-1903)

Although Joseph-Ferdinand Peachy was a descendant of English-speaking settler John Peachy, who came to Quebec in 1773, his primary language was French. Contemporaries pronounced his name “Piché”. Peachy began studying architecture at age 19 under eminent architect Charles Baillairgé. His early work was classical like Baillairgé’s, but he was soon influenced by the French Second Empire style. Peachy left behind more mansard-roofed structures than any other architect of his time. He blended styles to create an eclectic mixture that was characteristic of the late Victorian period. Joseph-Ferdinand Peachy left his mark on Quebec’s landscape in the 19th century. He designed over 200 residences, nearly 30 churches and a dozen convents and monasteries. Quebec City contains many buildings designed by Peachy, namely the François-Xavier Garneau house (1862), the church of Saint-Sauveur (1862), and the chapel of the Séminaire (1888). His masterpiece is the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste (1882), lying in the heart of the neighborhood the architect called home. Peachy’s conversion of the Quebec City Common Gaol is an early example of a building’s reuse for another purpose. Few changes were made to the building’s exterior, but the interior was almost completely remodeled. Spaces were opened up and eclectic decorative elements were installed; Peachy created the elegant library reading room with its cast-iron gallery.

Chandeliers

You may have noticed the new chandeliers, recently installed in the library and College Hall. They are a contemporary take on the original 19th century models.

Phase II Begins

We have received all the necessary funding to begin Phase II. Public funds from the Commission de la capitale nationale and private funds from the Fondation Bagatelle will help round up available amounts to complete the work. Phase II restoration work began in late March.Menuiserie Pouliot is presently working on the top floor, plastering the walls, and will soon begin painting. These rooms, which were used as workshops during the prison period, and as offices and apartments in later years, will be converted to office space. This is an urgent need with our eleven full-time staff in cramped quarters, others spilling onto the library balcony, and additional student jobs planned for the summer. Wiring for our computer and Internet network is also being set up. This will allow us to have wireless access in the library and College Hall, among other things.

Confirmation of Provincial Funding: Phase II

We received confirmation for phase II provincial funding one day short of the Quebec elections declaration. The pledge is lower than our initial demand, as funding for universal accessibility is no longer eligible from the Ministère de la culture et des communications. In other words, the provincial government financed an elevator shaft during Phase I but now claims it cannot fund the elevator. We will continue to seek out public funds for the elevator as universal accessibility is an important component of our project.

Inauguration of Morrin Centre

The former College Hall and Classroom for Classics hosted the official inauguration cocktail of the Morrin Centre today. Over 135 people were in attendance, including Ralph Mercier, representative of the City of Quebec, and Steven Blaney, federal deputy. The event attracted people of all generations, ranging from older denizens of the Society to younger people who had come to listen to the music of Clément Jacques and Randall Spear. People were impressed by the charm of the new green velvet curtains, college-era colours, and newly varnished floor. This inauguration marks the halfway point in our restoration project, which will be continued throughout Phase II in 2007.