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Mitchell farmhouse

Tribune photo

The Mitchell farmhouse, prior to its demolition.

Commemoration for farmhouse

A pioneer farmhouse demolished to smooth the way for a west end development that’s to include a Costco big box store will be commemorated on the site, but not for quite a while.

City hall staff are looking at having either a cairn or public art created to commemorate the Mitchell farmhouse.

The project would use $10,000 committed by land owner Armel Corp. when city council made a highly controversial 2005 decision to let Armel demolish the two-story stone farmhouse and grade the land.

A rezoning application by Armel, which allows a Costco membership warehouse store to be built in the northern part of the 32-acre site as the first phase of the site’s development, was approved by city council in November.

The memorial to the farmhouse won’t be part of this first phase, though.

Instead, the plan is to construct it along a new north-south road that’s to be built as part of the second phase of development in the southern part of the site, said Stephen Robinson, the city’s senior heritage planner.

That’s not where the farmhouse stood, but it would be a more prominent location for the memorial, he said.

The memorial would be “more in the public eye at the front of the development,” Robinson said in an interview.

“The farmhouse used to be in what would be seen as the western side of the site. It’s not a prominent spot now in the development of the subject lands,” he said.

The timing for the development of the southern part of the site is currently unknown, says a report by city planners.

So the city is setting a condition that land for a cairn or public art be provided by the developer “to the satisfaction of Heritage Guelph,” the city staff report says.

Council directed Armel in 2005 to erect a monument to the Mitchell farmhouse somewhere on the site.

City staff believe a commissioned piece of public art could allow for a memorial that’s “more interpretive or more creative” than a cairn, Robinson said.

“In its simplest form, it (a cairn) could be just a pile of stone and a plaque,” he said.

Whether it ends up being a cairn or public art, the eventual memorial to the farmhouse will be built using building materials salvaged from the demolition of the stone house, he said.

Details of the cairn or public art are to be developed in consultation with Heritage Guelph, the city’s heritage advisory committee.

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