Lunenburg Old Fire Hall Remains Unoccupied



(Illustration: Jessie McLaughlin)

If you stopped by the NSCAD residency studio at 42 Duke Street three years ago, you could’ve picked up a free art kit prepared by the current residents.

Four years ago, you could’ve dropped in for a pinhole camera workshop.

Six years ago, you could’ve taken part in an event called Rope Walk, where participants could learn to make rope.

Anyone familiar with the Old Fire Hall studio will likely remember it as a lively, exciting hub for artistic activity and community-building.

But you might have noticed that the lights have been off at 42 Duke Street. There are no workshops, no artist meet-and-greets, and no gallery events. There is not even a For Sale sign posted on the empty building.

In March 2023, the Lunenburg Barnacle reported on NSCAD’s loss of the Old Fire Hall space for their Lunenburg Community Studio Residency.

At the town, the decision was met with confusion and frustration from some locals, including those associated with the residency.

Town Council’s decision about the future of the residency in this space happened behind closed doors during an in camera session in a council meeting. 

This is in accordance with the Municipal Governance Act, which allows Council to discuss certain subjects privately. However, many associated with the NSCAD residency felt that there was a lack of transparency in this decision.

At the time of our initial reporting, Michael Best, Communications Officer for the Town of Lunenburg, said in an email: “The Town is evaluating all Town-owned land and buildings and considering future use(s) which may include the sale thereof.”

Asked in February for an update on the space, Best writes, “There is no update.  Our statement remains the same as you had originally published.” The Old Fire Hall remains empty, and there are no known plans to develop or use the space.

It is unclear why a space once so central to the town’s artistic spirit remains unoccupied, serving no one at all in the community.


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