In search of history in Lacombe

A lineup of stately homes dating to the early 1900s has long been one among the Town of Lacombe’s most unique attractions.

A lineup of stately homes dating to the early 1900s has long been one among the Town of Lacombe’s most unique attractions.

Built during the brief reign of Queen Victoria’s son, Edward the VIIth (1901 to 1910), some of Lacombe’s finest houses recall an era of high style and political activism.

Town staff and volunteers, with help from a team of consultants, has set out to take inventory of buildings that are 50 or more years old and examine their potential as historic resources, says Carol-Lynn Gilchrist, Lacombe’s planning and development services manager.

A list of sites was compiled during the 1970s, Gilchrist said. However, more properties have since qualified. She estimates that there are between 400 and 500 buildings in the town that need to be examined for their historic value.

In a process to be phased over the next three years, the Municipal Heritage Survey team will compile a list of properties that are 50 or more years old, evaluate the properties on that list, and then create a bylaw providing protection for those deemed to be of historic value to the town.

The first phase, to be carried out over the next year, will consist of training staff and volunteers and collecting all of the necessary data.

The $40,000 estimated cost for the first phase includes hiring Vancouver-based Donald Luxton and Associates Inc. to help with the process. Of the three firms interviewed for the project, Luxton was the one that did not appear concerned by the large number of sites involved, said Gilchrist.

Team members will complete their evaluations during the next year and the final phase will involve writing and passing the appropriate bylaw.

Funding for each of the three phases is being provided through a matching grant from the Alberta Municipal Heritage Partnership Program, which was set up to identify, preserve and manage architectural and cultural resources.

Property owners play an integral role, both for the history they can provide on their homes and businesses and because no property can be given a historic designation without the owner’s consent, said Gilchrist.

Survey team members will be going from site to site from Sept. 17 to 21, taking photos and carrying consent forms.

Public help is also being requested. The town will hold an open house at the Lacombe Memorial Centre from 1 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

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