Historical grants to help preserve, repair Big Valley and Stettler landmarks

When staring up Main Street in Big Valley, visitors can't help but notice the bright blue-and-white church at the top of the hill.

When staring up Main Street in Big Valley, visitors can’t help but notice the bright blue-and-white church that quaintly occupies the top of the hill.

A conservation architectural study at St. Edmund’s Anglican church will soon be underway after the Big Valley Historical Society (BVHS) is one of three Stettler-area groups to receive grants from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation’s Historic Resource Conservation Grants program.

The lucky recipients were named last Friday, Dec. 18, with BVHS securing two grants.

Lois Miller, treasurer for BVHS, said she’s very excited.

“Both (the church and grain elevator) are landmarks in Big Valley,” she said. “These grants will help us keep them sound and looking pretty.”

With a leaking roof on both the grain elevator and the blue church, BVHS brought in an inspector from the government, as both buildings are historic sites. The instructor felt a “conservation architectural study” should be completed on the church before repairing the roof because it was important to know if there were other issues with the quaint building before beginning work.

BVHS applied for a grant to cover 100 per cent of the cost, Miller said, and everyone was elated when they found out they’d received full funding, to the tune of $17,150.

Other grant recipients include the Rocky Mountain Rail Society, which has membership from all over central Alberta. The organization has been working on repairing a steam locomotive, the 6060. The train, built in 1944, is “an excellent example of the late-era steam locomotives built during the Second World War,” the press release from the foundation noted. The train as known as the “Spirit of Alberta” to mark the province’s 75th anniversary.

The final recipient in the Stettler-area of grant money is the Stettler United Church. The $540 received will help cover the cost of the Casavant organ repairs. The foundation praises the Stettler church’s blending of architecture.

“(Stettler United Church) was one of the first churches built specifically for use as a United Church,” the foundation noted in its press release. “Its architecture (represents) an intriguing transitional style between the historical architecture of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregrationalist churches of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the modernist churches of the latter half of the 20th century.”

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