Doom comes to Perras Place

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Historic home set for demolition this spring

The historic home next to Morinville’s town hall is set to face the wrecking ball next spring.

Perras Place is the purple home next to St. Germain Place that currently houses the town’s tourist information centre. Built in 1903, it’s part of the town’s Historic Homes & Heroes Walking Tour.

Town chief administrative officer Andy Isbister and town public works director Claude Valcourt confirmed last week that the town planned to demolish Perras Place as early as next spring.

Administration made this decision last year as part of an evaluation of all town properties, Isbister said. Like the Midstream Society’s building, Perras Place is a residential home now being used as a commercial office.

“They’re now both nearing the end of their lives,” he said of those buildings, and require cost-prohibitive upgrades to be brought up to commercial standards.

“At some point in time, we have to take it down.”

Perras Place is a nice old home, but Isbister said it is has not been declared a provincially significant historic site.

Murray Knight of the Morinville Historical & Cultural Society disputed this characterization.

“Any building that’s still standing that’s built in the early 1900s has significance,” he said.

Perras Place belonged to Joseph H. Perras, a noted local businessman and town councillor. His daughter, Raymonde “Rip” Riopel, grew up in the home and later became a prominent town historian, receiving the town’s inaugural Legacy Award in 2011 for her contributions to the community.

The Society would meet this week to discuss the building’s future, Knight said. He noted that it did have a bad foundation, and would require a formal study to see if it could feasibly be preserved.

The home has poor insulation and windows and is often either extremely cold or hot, said Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce president Simon Boersma.

“You would have to do a lot of work to bring that back up to standard.”

Instead, the Chamber plans to move its tourist centre into the main floor of St. Germain Place, Boersma said. This would hopefully draw more visitors to the centre and give it a symbolic link to the town’s economic development efforts.

Valcourt said a business case for the demolition would be in this fall’s budget. If approved, demolition would likely start next spring.

The town hasn’t decided what to do with the property afterwards, Isbister said. Current plans are to turn it into a grass area, possibly with a few picnic tables.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.