City hall is getting a makeover. Halifax council Tuesday approved a plan to begin the restoration of the historic structure, which was erected over a two-year period in 1887-89. The temporary scaffolding that was placed on the Argyle Street side of the building to protect pedestrians from falling stone will come down next week, with new construction scaffolding going up the same day.
Council approved the first stage of a three-part restoration. The first stage deals with the west front of the building, and will consist of scraping the sandstone blocks of an improperly applied sealant that was applied in the 1970s, repointing the granite foundation, fixing cracks, restoring decorative features, refitting right-sized downspouts and a bit of roof repair. Coastal Restoration & Masonry, a local firm, has been awarded the $1,031,992 contract for the work, the financing coming from the economic stimulus funds awarded earlier this year.
"We're lucky to have Coastal," explains project manager Scott Smith. "They are the foremost firm in stone restoration work in Canada, and probably in North America."
Smith, an architect, was himself hired by HRM primarily to oversee the City Hall work, although he has other assignments as well. "I applied for this job and moved here specifically for two buildings---city hall and AGNS," he says. Restoration of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia building is being overseen by the province.
"I'm excited by this project," says Smith. "It's a quality project, and we're doing it right. It's something we should be proud of."
Stage One should be completed by fall. The lessons learned will be applied to Stage Two, which consists of south side, facing Grand Parade. "It's in bad shape," says Smith. "We're told that city hall wasn't damaged by the Explosion, but as we get into this we're finding that may not be the case, especially with the tower."
Neither Stage Two nor Stage Three, which deals with the rest of the building, have been approved or funded.