By: Mike Anderson
Although the town’s heritage committee was recommending that Willow Beach’s historic Coolmere Lodge be preserved, council took no action to save the landmark building from the wrecker’s ball.
Built in the 1890s, Coolmere Lodge was located on the original Huntley farm. The lodge operated as a hotel for summer vacationers from Toronto, and was later converted into a rooming house.
The current owner of the property on 545 Lake Dr E, who purchased the property earlier this year, was approved for a demolition permit before the Georgina Heritage Committee (GHC) was able to submit its report to council recommending that the lodge be added to the Heritage Registry, which may have saved the building from demolition, according to the town:
“Generally speaking, adding a property to the Heritage Register allows Council time to consider designation or obtaining a record of preservation prior to any demolition. A Demolition Permit was issued on this property prior to the property being added to the Heritage Register. Staff worked with the owner to gain access to the property in order to take photos for a Record of Preservation,” the town responded in an email to a resident.
However, this was not the first time that the lodge had been considered for preservation.
According to GHC documents, in 2010, Councillor Dave Szollosy had recommended that the lodge be added to Georgina’s Heritage Registry – however, no action was taken at the time.
Also, over the years, there were repeated calls from residents, including previous owners of the building, to have it added to the Heritage Registry — these were also ignored.
As recently as this August, The GHC referred to the lodge as a landmark and “iconic” to the Willow Beach area:
“Coolmere Lodge looks very similar today as it looked 90 years ago. Its presence in Willow Beach with its distinctive rock wall and roofed gate is iconic. The structure and landscaping defines Willow Beach. It is physically, functionally, visually and historically linked to Willow Beach. Coolmere Lodge is a Landmark. “
Today, there is nothing left of the structure but a pile of debris, as yet another piece of Georgina’s history fades away forever.