Province promises $1M to restore Lunenburg Academy

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Parks Canada to spend up to $1M on Lunenburg Academy restoration

The Nova Scotia government has committed $1 million to help restore historic Lunenburg Academy, even though the funding is twice what the town had requested from the province for the first phase of the project.

Lunenburg took over the building in 2012. Local officials in the town of 2,200 people were concerned they wouldn't be able to restore the century-old building properly without help from federal and provincial taxpayers.

The estimated cost of restoring the building, which was constructed between 1893 and 1895, is in the millions. The most recent assessment for Phase 1 of the project, which includes renovating the exterior, is estimated at more than $2.3 million.

In addition to the $500,000 originally requested from the province, the town has asked federal government for assistance and applied for a Parks Canada grant of $1 million.

Another $200,000 was raised in the community by the Lunenburg Academy Foundation. 

Lunenburg Mayor Rachel Bailey wouldn't say Friday where the remainder of the money for the project will come from.

The project is also getting $66,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The restoration work will include making space for the regional library and educational programming, an art gallery, cafe and other enhancements.

Plans for the future

Until 2012, the building was a public school. 

The building is the only intact 19th-century academy building surviving in Nova Scotia.

The town wants to turn the former school into a multi-use cultural, entrepreneurial and educational space, providing a home for a mix of non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses with the idea that some of the tenants' rent will offset capital costs.

The Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (LAMP) was one of the first tenants to move in three years ago. The group brings top performers from other parts of the world to Lunenburg to work with young musicians.