Fernie Heritage Trust Society buys Knox United Church building

The Knox United Church building will be staying in local hands, after being purchased by the Fernie Heritage Trust Society on December 1, 2022. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)The Knox United Church building will be staying in local hands, after being purchased by the Fernie Heritage Trust Society on December 1, 2022. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
The Board of the Fernie Heritage Trust Society and Trustees and representatives of the Knox United Church. (Submitted by Gordon Sombrowski)The Board of the Fernie Heritage Trust Society and Trustees and representatives of the Knox United Church. (Submitted by Gordon Sombrowski)

The Knox United Church building has been sold, and ownership will be staying local.

The new owners of the 113-year-old building are the Fernie Heritage Trust Society (FHTS), which closed on the deal to purchase the building on December 1.

“It’s a great day for Fernie,” said President of FHTS, Gordon Sombrowski. “We are saving an important heritage building and ensuring it will be a public cultural space for the community.

“Our vision is to make the building available to the community as a performance art space and a community hub. The Fernie Heritage Trust Society has been working with some wonderful key individuals at Knox who understood how important the building was for the community. Their foresight and hard work helped to make this happen.”

The Knox United Church, located at 2nd St and 2nd Ave in Fernie, was built in 1909 and served as the home of the Presbyterian and then the United Church, acting as a hub for many generations of community in Fernie.

Representative of the Knox United Church congregation, Ev Cutts, said that the building had been used for worship, weddings, baptisms and funerals throughout its long life.

“Knox has been an anchor on 2nd Avenue since 1909 and although the current members of Knox are sad to not own the building going forward, we are pleased to be able to leave such a great legacy to the Citizens of the Elk Valley – we look forward to watching the space grow as a performing arts space.”

Under the agreement between the congregation and FHTS, the building can continue to be used by the congregation, but allows for the FHTS to make the building available to the community for public performances, concerts, meetings and events. According to the FHTS, the building has wonderful acoustics and is a ready-made concert hall.

The purchase of the building by Fernie Heritage Trust was made possible by the generous underwriting of the financing by the Sombrowski family which ensured a long-term interest free loan was possible. The Fernie Heritage Trust will be undertaking a capital campaign in order to raise funds for the retirement of the debt, as well as to make needed restorations and renovations, purchase professional performance space equipment, and create a capital fund to allow for independent programming.

There will be a Community Open House and Consultation on December 6, 2022, at 5 p.m. at Knox United Church at 201 2nd Avenue at which the Fernie Heritage Trust Society will engage the community as it further develops the vision for the building.

READ MORE: Fernie set to move council meetings



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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