The Bell Mansion is one of the oldest and architecturally significant buildings in the Kingsmount-Bell Park area and, indeed, the City of Greater Sudbury. With Laurentian University in insolvency and the court conducting a confidential process for sale of property including land and buildings, the Sudbury Arts Council posted the following media release regarding the Bell Mansion. Please read up on this historical building and feel free to share your concerns with members of City Council.
Sudbury Arts Council – Conseil des arts de Sudbury
The Bell Mansion is an important historical community building.
As one of the few beautiful older buildings left in Sudbury, the Bell Mansion and grounds are often used as the backdrop for weddings, photo-shoots and historical education. It is owned by Laurentian University and occupied by the Art Gallery of Sudbury.
With Laurentian in insolvency and the court conducting a confidential process for sale of property, including land and buildings, the Sudbury Arts Council is very concerned that the mansion and grounds will be sold.
Many people may not know of the restrictions on such a sale, so we offer a review: In 1984 the city designated the mansion and grounds as an official heritage site under provincial guidelines. Such a restriction allows sale of the property but no alterations of its structure or appearance without city council approval.
A second restriction involves the history of the property. When Mrs. Bell died in 1954, she willed the mansion to the Memorial hospital. After a fire, the mansion was given to the Masons for a club house but they could not get the property rezoned. The Masons sold the property to the Chamber of Commerce which rebuilt the interior for the purpose of creating a Sudbury community museum and art centre as a centennial project from 1966 to 1969. For the symbolic sum of one dollar, the chamber gave the property to Laurentian University, but with important conditions. On the property’s land title, the completion of that “gift” in 1969 is noted. Further, Laurentian and the chamber signed an agreement of which the crucial paragraph states “the [university] agrees to use of the aforesaid lands and premises when received for the purpose of a Museum and Arts Centre to be known as the Sudbury Centennial Museum and Fine Arts Centre of Laurentian University and use by the University to promote appreciation and enjoyment of the Arts by the public.” The name has changed but the purpose remains. The agreement also includes that the university has to keep to the “spirit” of the agreement made.
So we worry that the “spirit” of the agreement may not be kept. We hope the mansion can remain as a place serving cultural purposes and offering educational opportunities to Sudburians.
Dr. Dieter K. Buse has researched the history of the property and can supply further information. (Buse@cyberbeach.net)
Linda Cartier, President, Sudbury Arts Council
Sudbury Arts Council