The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario is a charity with the goal of helping communities preserve buildings and structures of architectural merit and places of natural beauty and interest. Their activities include advocacy and activism, the commissioning of studies and reports as well as public outreach and education programs. Twice yearly they publish ACORN, a magazine devoted to preservation issues of province-wide interest . Their PreservationWorks! program sends experts to assess and report on heritage properties and can assist in gaining public support, warn of structural issues and suggest preservation strategies. And their Historic Architectural Linking Program connects prospective purchasers with vacant, at-risk heritage properties. The Conservancy has 24 branches across Ontario. Branch activities include lectures, tours and advocacy and restoration of heritage properties.
On occasion, the Conservancy has been able to purchase threatened properties. It was the purchase of Barnum House by Dr. Eric Arthur, a professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Toronto, which led to the founding of ACO in 1933. Dr. Arthur’s purchase of the threatened building started a movement to document Ontario’s heritage architecture. Barnum House, located just outside of Grafton is one of Ontario’s finest examples of Neo-classical architecture. The newly founded ACO worked to restore Barnum House and opened it to the public in 1940 as Ontario’s first house museum. Today it is owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust.
Over its history ACO has helped save hundreds of buildings all across Ontario, and raised awareness of the importance of preserving our community heritage. The first organization to do such work, ACO pressed for heritage legislation and funding in Ontario. Recent campaigns have focused on the environmental sustainability of heritage architecture and neighbourhoods.
This year marks their 80th anniversary. Watch for a book commemorating 80 of the buildings and landscapes they’ve helped preserve.
We’re proud to support ACO’s legal needs in charity and governance matters.