Scaffolding has encased the historic Schwartz House at Altona's Gallery in the Park as a crew begin the process of replacing the facility's aging shingles and siding. 

The town has spent thousands of dollars every year to paint the building, which has proven to be band-aid solution.

"Knowing it needed replacing, we've been painting it since we opened as a gallery and it just doesn't last very long," said Frank Friesen, chair of the Gallery's Operating Committee. "We've been after a more permanent solution. When we got somebody out there to take a good look at the siding, they suggested, you've really got to start with the roof. If we had an exhibit going with artwork hanging, and we developed a leak, of course, that would be a big deal. Insurance wouldn't like it; the artists wouldn't like it; our guests wouldn't like it; the friends of the Gallery wouldn't like it."

Stage 1 of the project will see the deteriorated cedar shake shingles replaced with a newer composite metal shingle that has a similar appearance.

"[This metal product] will provide us with a lot longer lasting, more durable roofing product so that we're not looking at doing any roof work for the next 20 to 25 years," explains Eric Hildebrand, the town's Recreation Manager.

"We really wanted to keep that cedar look going. It's just really relevant to the age of that structure considering that it's over 100 years so it needs to have that historic appearance. The facility itself is not a designated heritage site, so we are free to go outside the norm. And in this case, that's exactly what we've done."

The facility's deteriorated cedar shakes are being replace with metal tiles

The structure's shingle makeover should be completed by the beginning of the Gallery's new season on June 1st, with the siding reno to follow at the end of summer.  

The aim of the project is to preserve the building's period physical esthetics using smart maintenance-free products that ensure its longevity.

"If you look near the top, near the gables, there's a lot of intricate almost hand carved or hand sawn intricate design," noted Friesen. "How that's going to turn out we're not certain. Some of the little stained-glass windows - we think we've got around that. We want to keep as much of that as we can. It's going to be better on the taxpayer but it's not going to look quite the same. We are thinking, with the samples of siding that we've seen as well as the shakes on top, that it's going to look, let's say, 80% of what it was. That's my own number."

For Stage 2 of the project, the siding, three replacement options are being considered said Hildebrand.

"A steel option that has that wood appearance with the wood graining would likely be the longest lasting, most maintenance free product. We're also exploring a Hardie board which is more of a cement fiber component. And then there's a third product which is an engineered wood composite. We want to keep the appearance of the Gallery in the Park Schwartz House, that light blue, smoky grey-blue type of color, as that was a color palette that would have been used in these homes at the turn of the century."

The total cost of the project is pegged at just over $147,000, with a large part of the funding covered by corporate donations straight to the Gallery in the Park, a few smaller personal donations, along with money from the town's reserves set aside for this type of use.

"We already paid for the shingles in last year's budget," says Hildebrand. "Basically, there's about $120,000 set aside in this year's budget to pay for the labor of the installation of the roofing product. The rest of the funds will be used to purchase the siding and pay for the installation of the siding. By the end of this calendar year that will be off the books and the facility would be ready to go for the next 20, 25, 30 years before any more work would need to be done."

Friesen is grateful for the timing of the project. 

"I know they've got a lot of competing needs, as do all municipal jurisdictions. But I'm very grateful, having a special interest in the gallery, that they've chosen this time to get that looked after."