A local business is being recognized for its cultural heritage value.
Chatham-Kent council voted to support the designation of 201-203 King St., known as the Boyd Block, in Chatham. This means current, and future owners will ensure they protect and preserve it in perpetuity.
“This property has significant historical value as well as a strong connection with Grandison Boyd, a prominent Black resident of Chatham who is a key associative figure in Chatham’s development as the ‘Black Mecca,’” the municipality stated in a release.
In order to be designated, properties must meet one of three criteria: architectural merit, historic or associative value, or contextual significance.
In the late 1860s or early 1870s, Boyd constructed the three-storey brick commercial building along the Thames River.
“It is interesting and significant to note that, while there was no official segregation of businesses in Chatham, most Black entrepreneurs operated east of William Street. Boyd, however, built his block along the predominant white section of King Street West,” reads the report.
In addition to being a merchant, Boyd was also a community leader and political activist. In 1874, the annual Emancipation Day parade in Chatham was cancelled and replaced by a major protest to promote Black rights. The Chairperson of the protest was Grandison Boyd.
Pete Tsirimbis, the block’s current owner, said he appreciates the architecture and history of the building.
“Having family who are stewards of buildings and having a background in history and business have taught me to pay homage to the past and to continue in our goal of revitalizing the downtown Chatham core,” said Tsirimbis.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News