Historic Picton property heads in a different direction
The CAPE aims to launch a culinarythemed event space in the summer of 2018, which is slightly different than what was intended for the restoration of the Ross McMullen house, formerly the Picton Legion. The original concept was for the building to become an accredited culinary school, which would in turn provide a solid base of skilled workers in the area for food and beverage. It was an exciting idea, and one that had heads turning at bigger establishments in the County. But upon further analysis, Jonathan Kearns and his wife, Corrine Spiegel—owners of the building—were not necessarily sure that an accredited culinary school would be the best fit for the County at this time.
“We did a lot of investigating and found that the housing crisis in the County would affect a school dramatically. Without that infrastructure, how would people find places to stay? The important thing for us is that we restore the building and that its services are beneficial to the community,” says Kearns.
Without proper housing for students and no public transportation to help those students get around, the couple realized that an accredited school wouldn’t be in the cards for this property. They focused their efforts on restoring the building to its former glory, and started playing with the concept of keeping a culinary theme going, but with more co-op class styles rather than a full-on accredited program. The newly thought-of space will be centred around events, conferences and weddings. The building has a large capacity and could possibly hold a wedding for up to 500 people.
“This is our legacy project. We are very committed to the County and providing an elegant new space, and all the while respecting the building’s heritage status. We like to consider the building a restoration and not a renovation. We are bringing it back, and not just slapping it down. We are taking time and care in making sure this is a destination for anyone looking to host an event,” says Kearns.
As for public events, the couple hopes to add a philanthropic nature to the programming by using the space for free readings, fundraisers and hopefully some involvement with the local schools as well.
“We are looking to host a regular series at the CAPE where we bring the community together and do something. Eat, sing, dance. We got married here and for our wedding we decided to go completely local for everything we needed. We had Vicki’s Veggies do our first dinner course, we had Miss Lily’s make the cake. We hosted the wedding the same way we will run the venue, with community in mind,” says Spiegel
Currently, Kearns and Spiegel are building their events team and accepting inquiries for events in 2018. Although not an accredited school anymore, the building will still have a culinary theme, host classes and run events. They are currently meeting with educational partners and will release the full extent of their programming closer to the launch date. In the meantime, the two are fully focused on the restoration of Ross McMullen house. Not only the physical restoration, but the cultural one. Engaging the community will be paramount in the next chapter of yet another building in the County given a new life.