Iroquois’ Forward House closed; grim future for historic building

Dark clouds gather over the Forward House in Iroquois, Ont. on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. South Dundas council has closed the building which has major structural issues. Restoring it would cost $334,000, according to a consultant. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

MORRISBURG/IROQUOIS – Facing major structural issues and over $300,000 in long term repairs, South Dundas council has shut the doors on the historic Forward House in Iroquois.

The stone building on the corner of Elizabeth Drive at Carmen Road, had been identified as a key component of the Iroquois waterfront plan that should be protected and promoted. It’s also the home to the local lawn bowling club and tourist information services.

“I think, no matter what, we need to close it just based on the report and the issues at hand,” Recreation Director Ben Macpherson told council last week.

Macpherson said he didn’t feel comfortable allowing the lawn bowling club to keep using the facility in its current state.

A short term list of 13 recommended repairs would cost $23,000 “to avoid a potential lawsuit” while restoring and preserving the building would cost $334,000.

The building has a host of problems that need to be repaired, including replacing the entire roof, all the windows and window frames, all the plumbing, the walls and floor coverings and the entire first and second floor joists and sub floor.

“I doubt there’s any fire to spend $23,000 (minimum) to keep going,” Deputy Mayor Jim Locke said.

Taking a wrecking ball to the building will cost $7,000 while providing a 700 square foot washroom/shower facility for the lawn bowling club would cost about $98,000.

The Iroquois Lawn Bowling Club uses the facility about 3-4 times a week, Mayor Evonne Delegarde said.

“Where are we going to tell them they can relocate?” Coun. Bill Ewing asked.

The mayor indicated there had been no discussions that had happened. “I think it needs to happen,” Ewing replied.