Description of Historic Place
The Gillis Blakley, Bethune and District Heritage Museum is a Municipal Heritage Property located on the southeast corner of East Street and Central Avenue in the Village of Bethune. The property features four historic buildings, including a single-storey wood-frame church, two wood-frame, single-storey residences, a wood-frame shed, a wood-frame privy, and a freestanding metal flagpole. The property is surrounded by a chain-link metal fence, and includes several trees and some hedges.
The heritage value of the Gillis Blakley, Bethune and District Heritage Museum lies in its use as a space for displaying community artifacts. The museum complex is centred around the former St. Paul’s Anglican Church. After the church closed, the church property was acquired by the village to become the focal point of a district museum. The property also includes the Gillis Blakley Homestead, Broome’s car garage, the Francis House, a privy from the Kuntz Farm and a metal flagpole in front of the church. After the church was converted into a museum, and other buildings added, the property was renamed the Gillis Blakley, Bethune and District Heritage Museum.
Heritage value also lies in the property’s historic use as a place of worship. The centre of Anglican religious life in the community, the original St. Paul’s Anglican Church was constructed on this property in 1924. It burned down in 1960 and was replaced by an 1892 church originally constructed near Tuxford as the Huron Presbyterian Church. Renamed St. Paul’s Anglican Church, it was used as a place of worship until the early 1980s.
The heritage value of the property also lies in its association with Gillis Blakley, an early proponent for collecting pioneer artifacts. The museum’s collection of artifacts were largely accumulated over many decades by Blakley, and they are displayed throughout the museum complex. The Blakley House was built in 1904 by Ernie Blakley on a farm southeast of Bethune. It was moved next to the Bethune Sports Grounds in the 1960s to serve as a museum, and then relocated to this site in 1987.
Heritage value also resides in the vernacular architecture of the Broome Garage, Kuntz privy, Francis House and Blakley House, which are representative of early-twentieth century settlement in many parts of western Canada. Typical of the style of venacular construction, the buildings feature gable roofs, simple rectangular forms, and limited massing. The sheet metal siding on the Blakley House was a typical response of pioneers seeking to reduce building maintenance or to give the appearance of a more substantial construction material. Likewise, the application of stucco to the Francis House was a typical mid-twentieth century response to reducing building maintenance.
Heritage value also resides in the limited application of Gothic Revival architecture on St. Paul’s Church. This influence can be observed in the building’s use of pointed-arch windows, a steeply-pitched gable roof, wooden drop siding and small rose window in the west gable.
Village of Bethune Bylaw 7/87.
The heritage value of the Gillis Blakley, Bethune and District Heritage Museum resides in the following character-defining elements:
-those features that reflect the use of this complex as a museum for displaying community artifacts, such as the use of various historic buildings for interpreting the history of the region, and their placement within a specific area of the village;
-those features that reflect the use of the property as a place of worship, such as the pointed-arched and rose windows of St. Paul’s Church;
-those features of the Gillis Blakley House that reflect its pioneer farm use, such as the sheet metal siding, the non-decorative windows, and the medium-pitched gable roof covered with cedar shingles;
-those features of St. Paul’s Church that reflect its limited application of Gothic Revival architecture, including its pointed-arched and rose windows, steep and medium-pitched gable roofs covered with cedar shingles, and drop siding on the exterior walls;
-those features of the Francis House that reflect its vernacular architecture, such as its simple form, gable roof and the recladding with stucco;
-those exterior features of the Broome Garage that reflect its vernacular architecture, such as the drop siding, small, non-decorative windows, and the low-pitched gable roof covered with cedar shingles;
-those exterior features of the Kuntz privy that reflect its vernacular architecture, such as the drop siding on the walls, cedar shingles on the medium-pitched roof and an air vent.