Sybil Andrews Cottage restoration work begins

We have lift-off.

Sybil Andrews’ house is lifted off its foundations to begin restoration of the artist’s cottage.

We have lift-off.

After a number of years raising funds and awareness, the Sybil Andrews Heritage Society, the Campbell River Arts Council and the City of Campbell River are pleased to see the Sybil Andrews cottage restoration project get off the ground – literally.

“With the ongoing solid community support to establish the Sybil Andrews and Walter Morgan property as a heritage site, we’ll have a complimentary bookend to the Haig-Brown House in the north of our community,” says Mayor Charlie Cornfield. “Thanks to the generous funding from the Heritage Legacy Fund, the Coast Sustainability Trust Fund, Heritage BC and the Sybil Andrews Heritage Society, this project will create a heritage focal point in south Campbell River that acknowledges the important role Sybil Andrews played in art history and in the development of our community.”

The Sybil Andrews Cottage in Willow Point, was the home of Sybil Andrews, an internationally famous artist and her husband Walter Morgan, a one-handed boat-builder, machinist, trumpeter and woodworker. The Sybil Andrews Heritage Society was formed in December 2004 with a mandate to improve the appearance of the property while advocating to preserve the artist’s property.

“In a letter to the City six years ago, we explained the value of Sybil Andrews’ art because people didn’t have a full appreciation of the importance and stature of her work in the international community,” says Fern Seaboyer, president of the Sybil Andrews Heritage Society. “Sybil’s small linocuts are selling for tens of thousands of dollars, and one has sold for more than $100,000.”

Stakeholders in the arts community, Willow Point businesses and the Lions Club that runs the hall next door, all support the restoration work, Seaboyer adds. “Based on feedback from the general public at the numerous meetings and through surveys, it’s fair to say people have come to appreciate Sybil Andrews’ talent as well as the importance of preserving the cottage, where she created her art, as a heritage site. Combined with the neighbouring parkland and hall, this heritage site offers a range of possibilities for the entire community.”

“The Sybil Andrews’ heritage site will be a tremendous resource as we build cultural tourism and the creative economy in Campbell River,” says Campbell River Arts Council president Ken Blackburn. “The fact that an artist so essential and central to modern art did her work at this preserved site in Campbell River gives us a competitive edge over other communities,” he adds. “We anticipate a substantial return on investment for the restoration of this humble cottage.”

The cottage, located next to Frank James Park in Willow Point, will be restored by lifting and fitting it with a new foundation, installing drainage improvements, a new roof, wheelchair ramp, access door, some siding replacement and painting. Landscaping the site will use heritage plants salvaged from the property. All restoration activities are confined to the work site and will take place during regular work hours.

Preparation work is currently underway for lifting the cottage, which is scheduled to be set on its new foundation March 14. The restoration work is expected to be completed in time for Sybil Andrews’ Day, annual City recognition of the artist’s birthday, April 19.