Future plans for Nisbet Church and Block House taking shape

By Charlene Tebbutt
November 21, 2018 - 12:31pm Updated: November 21, 2018 - 1:11pm

Plans for the Nisbet Church and Block House are taking shape with the local historical society hoping to rebuild the buildings at a new location downtown.

The buildings were located in Kinsmen Park for 85 years, but were taken down earlier this year due to deterioration. Wood from the buildings is being stored by the city and the historical society wants to use it to rebuild both the church and Block House on the riverbank, near the museum.

The historical society has asked the City of Prince Albert for permission to move the buildings to the riverbank, at the former site of the Lund Wildlife Museum at River Street and First Avenue West. The historical society said the buildings were originally located near the river in downtown Prince Albert, and bringing them back to the area will add to the city’s rich history.

“Bringing them back down to the riverbank from Kinsmen Park is actually just bringing them closer to their original location,” Michelle Taylor, manager and curator with the museum said. “We would like to get the answers, or at least the agreement from the city sooner rather than later so that we can work on the fundraising, because it is possible if we get the funds all in line, that these buildings could be up again in the fall."

Taylor said the museum staff hope the city can continue to maintain and care for the buildings as part of the move. Plans for the new site include placing the refurbished buildings on concrete pads and making them more self-sufficient, using solar power and sturdy, but historically-appropriate roofing.

Once up at the new site, the Nisbet Church would focus on religious history in the city, Taylor added, and also tell the story of James Nisbet coming to Prince Albert. The Block House was built as a stable originally, but was also used as a first line of defence during the North West Rebellion of 1885.

Members of the historical society hope to begin rebuilding in the spring. Taylor said the organization will seek donations of both time and money from wider community to help cover the cost of rebuilding the church and Block House.

“As we’ve come to plan more, we’ve found that it will cost us about $100,000 for the two buildings, and we’re not expecting the city to pay for that,” she added.

Mayor Greg Dionne told paNOW he likes the idea, but also suggested bringing the museums located outside the Prince Albert Tourism building downtown as well. The Museum of Corrections and Policing and the Evolution of Education museum are both currently located on the grounds of Prince Albert Tourism on the city’s south side.

Dionne said having all museum buildings together would be easier to manage and staff.

“Then we would have all five museums on the riverbank and all within walking distance to the main museum,” Dionne said. “And in today’s world of costs, you have to look at that.”

Taylor said the organization hasn’t considered moving those buildings, adding they seem to work well in their current location and might clutter the river area. Both the Corrections and Policing museum and Education Museum are significantly bigger that the Nisbet Church and Block House, Taylor added.

The historical society’s request was referred to city administration for further review.


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On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt

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