We received this exciting news recently from the Ontario Historical Society about heritage restorations to Fran Kronstal’s building on Mill Street, which houses Acanthus and Modern Fables:
The Ontario Historical Society’s Honours and Awards Committee is pleased to present the 2022-23 Heritage Conservation Award to Fran Kronstal, owner of 58-60 Mill Street in Almonte, Ontario for her excellent work in preserving and restoring this property. This award recognizes a not-for-profit organization, individual, or government agency in Ontario for their efforts in restoring or conserving a piece of Ontario Heritage.
58-60 Mill Street is located within Almonte’s Heritage Conservation District. Built in 1902, this property holds the unique distinction of being located on a corner triangle lot, and with Kronstal’s work in restoration, is once again a stunning feature of the historic downtown strip. Kronstal’s dedication to keeping the distinctive windows and decorative features of this heritage building help to highlight the rich architectural history of the building and surrounding area. This restoration is not simply a faithful reproduction of what was, but also a clever redevelopment within the context of the modern town.
Stephen Brathwaite, who has restored several Mill Street properties to reflect their heritage origins, took part in the work.
“When Fran realized what she had she totally embraced the project,” he said. Guided in part by a photo of the property from the early 20th century, Fran, Stephen and several other volunteers worked for months to restore or recreate the building’s heritage features. These included the extra-large windows, custom-made by Graham Glass on March Road.
“We felt the building should be accentuated with a cherub on the restored finials that Scott MacLellan turned and Ray Bourassa installed, so Fran posed for that,” Stephen said. Matt Ficner made the cherub.
Local architect Peter Mansfield has drafted a plan for the restoration of the apartments above the shop, which will hopefully proceed later this year.
Once the restoration was complete it was shown off with an exhibition by local artists and craftsmen, where Fran told the story about meeting her friend Edward, from whom she inherited the building. The story is inscribed on a glass panel at the rear of the building:
“Aunt Edith had 6 of these [stained glass elements similar to the one below]. Edward brought them home from Scotland one at a time. She took her own life in 1960 so they were precious to him. I met him at the Sally Ann.
“He was rummaging as always. I told him my daughter Lindsey had fallen off her horse and I had gone to see her at the Queensway Carleton. When I went to go home my car was gone! It was stolen! He talked me into getting on his motorcycle that same day and he drove me to the Winchester car auction and we both bought cars.
“We just kept hanging out. Of course he wanted more but WE WERE JUST FRIENDS! We had known each other for about 15 years when he died. He had no one and left everything to me. “I’m leaving you with a big mess”, he said and he did! He loved my dog the most haha. He said Lucy was a chick magnet so he’d walk around with her. When I first saw the building in Almonte I thought what an eyesore! And it was full to the top with his stuff.”
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, Fran was quoted as saying that the previous owner, Ed Nicolson, bought the building for $190,000 in cash in a paper bag he gave to Evelyn Wheeler.
This was not correct. Evelyn Wheeler did not accept any cash in respect of the purchase of the Mill Street building. This would be contrary to regulations governing the legal profession. Real estate transactions in Ontario are completed by lawyers who receive funds by bank draft, certified cheque or a bank transfer of funds. We apologize to Ms. Wheeler for the error.