Future of 173-year-old Elgin Hall residence to be decided

By Sean IrvineCTV News, May 10, 2023

The future of a 173-year-old pre-confederation home south of Ingersoll may be decided late Tuesday.

Southwest Oxford Council will meet to discuss placing a heritage designation on Elgin Hall.

For months, some residents in the hamlet of Mt. Elgin have battled with a developer to save the large Italianate-style residence built in 1850.

It was the one-time home of the first MP for Oxford County Ebenezer Vining Bodwell.

“One of the first members of parliament to ever represent Oxford County lived here. This was his ancestral home and that is a deep connection to this community,” said Cody Groat, an assistant professor of history at Western University. He is part of a community group looking to save Elgin Hall.

In August, it appeared the group had made some progress towards designating the structure and seeing it sold to a former member of Parliament for preservation.

But group member Debbie Kasman said an offer of “over a million dollars” was not accepted by the developer.

image of elgin hall
A drawing of Elgin Hall found inside a report prepared by a heritage assessor for the municipality of Southwest Oxford. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)


Kasman is worried time is now running out to preserve the structure,

“It’s been left to rot basically, and we’re sad it’s slowly deteriorating,” she said.

A report prepared for the developer also finds parts of Elgin Hall are in rough shape

Submitted to the council, the report shows pictures of rotting floorboards, foundations, bricks and ceiling.

The developers' report suggests the cost to repair Elgin Hall would be $1.5 million.

As a result, the report proposes Southwest Oxford Council decline a request to designate and instead look at options the developer has presented for new housing.

One plan would be to mimic Elgin Hall in a new apartment-style structure on the site.

The developer said the new building would use “existing building materials” from Elgin Hall.

But the community preservationists believe saving Elgin Hall outright is the best option.

They point to a new heritage report ordered by council which found Elgin Hall meets four requirements to be designated, two more than required under recently changed legislation.

“They flagged more things than we actually expected them to, highlighting the significance of the structure,” said Groat.

Outside of the requirements, the report also noted the architectural features of Elgin Hall, including its cornices, recessed entranceway and windows.

While the report outlined numerous reasons to potentially keep Elgin Hall standing, councillors will ultimately decide whether or not to proceed with the designation.

If they do, Kasman expects the developer to appeal the decision.

If council chooses not to designate, she fears Elgin Hall's 173-year legacy in Mt. Elgin is nearing an end.

“It’s game over for the community and it’s heartbreaking,” she added.

CTV London has reached out to the developer and his representatives for comment but as of publishing time has not received a response.