A new roof cornice is being installed on Ward Street Place as part of an exterior renovation to the Nelson heritage building, owned by Nelson CARES. Photo submitted

Ward Street Place restoration project underway

The 107-year-old building is receiving plenty of work


Phase I of a large heritage restoration project is underway at Ward Street Place (Annable Block) located at 567 Ward Street. After a statement of significance was completed on the 107-year-old building in January, a heritage conservation plan was created.

This plan recommended restoring historical features of the building facade, including commercial display windows, doors, bulkheads, rebuilding the roofline cornice, and installing a new awning system.

The Annable Block was constructed in the Edwardian style as a dual purpose commercial and residential building and it remains true to this historical purpose. The building is named after the developer and owner John Edward Annable, a longtime Nelson resident. The building was purchased by the community through Nelson CARES in 2002 as affordable housing in the downtown core.

Nelson CARES added seven residential units in the basement bringing the total affordable housing units in the block to 45. A major interior renovation, thanks to community donations, has been underway since 2014 and included the installation of a fire sprinkler system and massive upgrades to all the rental units.

“I feel blessed to be in this historic building and it is wonderful to see the quality work going into this restoration,” says Dawn Somers, owner and operator of Strutter’s Boutique, which has been a tenant in Ward Street Place for three years.

Nelson CARES receives no public funding for the building and operates it as a social enterprise with the rents collected from the seven commercial units being invested to support the affordability of the residential units. It is a unique affordable housing model in B.C. It is the last low income housing in Nelson’s downtown.

“Our commercial tenants are crucial to ensuring the residential rents are kept low and the building is sustainable over time,” said Nelson CARES board president Ron Little. “This investment from Columbia Basin Trust and Heritage BC will ensure the commercial units remain attractive to retailers and continue to add to the beautiful historic landscape of downtown Nelson.”

The heritage conservation plan focuses on the character and defining elements of the building. Sourcing archival photographs from the Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History archives, the restorations will stay true to the authentic look and construction of the building.

During the conservation assessment, it was discovered that numerous features of the building are original to the 1912 construction, including display window transoms, most entry doors, and opaque Florentine glass. This first phase of restoration will focus on improving the safety and security of the building while maintaining these Edwardian features. This will include:

• replacing the roofline cornice which was removed between 1950 and 1974. This will improve the look of the building, protect the brick work, and reduce water entry into the building.

• restoration of the commercial and residential entry doors, window sashes and hardware to a consistent look matching the heritage era.

• storefront façade wood elements will be restored and repainted to match the original colour palette.

• replacement of the current awnings system to one that reveals more of the historic elements of the building

“We are so grateful to Columbia Basin Trust and Heritage BC for this grant and their expertise in guiding this work,” said Jenny Robinson, executive director of Nelson CARES. “We have invested in this building as a community and we are overjoyed to bring the Annable Block back to its glory days. And we now understand the historical significance of the site. It is a gift to the community.”

Renovating and restoring a building that is over 100 years old takes a team of skilled trades people. This will ensure the structure is preserved so it will be viable for decades to come. Work will continue through 2019.

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