After five years of fundraising and construction and several years of planning before that, Nelson’s old CPR station is the new home of the tourism visitor centre, open now but waiting until spring for a grand opening. In January, the Nelson Star will move into office space on the second floor, just down the hall from a new boardroom that will be used for public meetings and gatherings.
It’s the boardroom that project contractor Joern Wingender seems proudest of.
“In this room we are showcasing the last remaining historic interior trim and original windows,” he said. An expert in building restoration and green building, Wingender has led the effort to create a building whose construction methods and materials are a unique combination of traditional and progressive.
“Now we can add another chapter to the story that the building is telling us,” Wingender says.
One of the other leaders of this project, Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson, happily ensconced in his new office on the second floor, says he’s pleased.
“We have gone from a building that a lot of people thought was a liability to a great community asset, and we are happy to be part of this. This is a comfortable space — the offices on the second floor are quiet and the visitor centre down on the main floor has a really nice feel with the wood and the fireplace.
Tom Thomson in his new office. All photos by Bill Metcalfe.
“This is the start of something that will be a lot bigger,” he says. “This is going to be a lot larger in scope. We see a vision of a plaza and with events and celebrations down here.”
The CPR station, built in 1901, was vacant and derelict for many years before the Chamber of Commerce acquired it.