While the workers on site were secretive about the renovation, I was able to get inside the Plank Road building on Tuesday for a brief look around.
It looks rough. And good. And it looks like it’s getting better.
According to the workers, the building has been empty for 60 years and has suffered many fires. Still, while some of the wood is charred inside, the space is undeniably beautiful and the building’s bones are strong.
I wasn’t able to take pictures, but the building has three floors with a central staircase and two large rooms on the main floor. The workers are replacing at least the joists and the interior walls; they said they are “basically cleaning up, fixing walls and stuff”. Some of the old framing remains, though, and the space looks like it will be open and inviting.
The workers had no idea when the building would be done, and it will certainly be a while. There is a lot of work left to do.
They said, though, that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the building; it just suffers from “old age”. That can’t be a surprise: the Plank Road building is one of the oldest buildings in Ontario. In fact, it is older than Canada; it was built a quarter-century before Confederation.
According to the workers, the building’s owner will be putting the space up for rent when renovations are complete.