For 99 years, Brandon’s domed Display Building No. 2 has served as a symbol of our city’s long-standing ties to the agricultural communities that surround us, and bind us to this region.
Ironically perhaps, the Dome Building was constructed for the 1913 Dominion Fair as a temporary structure, its designers — Walter H. Shillinglaw and David Marshall — likely never realizing how long it would stand within in the community.
But in recent years, it had begun to badly deteriorate, and was in such a sorry state that there were concerns within the community it would fall down of its own accord before anyone had a chance to begin renovations. There were also those among us who hoped it would.
With that in mind, we must give praise to the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, an organization that is working diligently to reclaim a decaying part of our collective heritage. The past week in particular has proven that hard work and a steadfast vision for the future still count for something in this city.
Last Wednesday, Provincial Ex general manager Karen Oliver announced that work to restore and rebuild the 164 antique windows and 1,164 window panes for the Dome Building has been completed.
In February 2011, the windows were taken to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum near the Brandon Municipal Airport, and the restoration work began. It took approximately 3,000 volunteer hours to complete the work and the results have been well worth the wait.
Much of the original glass and wood have been kept, though eight of the larger windows had been destroyed several years ago and had to be rebuilt from scratch, using original methods to maintain an authentic restoration. Several of the beautifully restored windows have already been reinstalled on the structure and are clearly visible from the outside.
“The installation of those windows will be a sign to the public of how the project has moved ahead and what a community partnership can accomplish,” Oliver said during the press conference.
The timeline for the next phase of renovations is entirely dependent on the availability of funding, and how quickly construction and renovations can move along.
But late Friday afternoon, Provincial Ex organizers received a huge, and largely unexpected boost from the federal government in the form of a $500,000 grant from the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program. That brings the group’s fundraising coffers up to $3 million in federal, provincial, municipal and local funding.
This particular federal funding stream is available to buildings that are celebrating an anniversary of 100 years or more. With the structure’s 100th anniversary on the horizon in 2013, the stars were perfectly aligned in favour of the Dome Building’s renovation.
We are very pleased that all three levels of government have seen fit to fund such a worthy project and we look forward to one year from now to witness the building’s rededication for another century.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 7, 2012