Protect our Heritage. Save the Kent County Courthouse and Jail
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In 1847, the Provincial District Act was passed, and the District of Kent was created. As the new district could not be considered official until it had a place to house its lawbreakers, construction began on the County Jail. On February 27, 1851, the courthouse was opened and the first Council of the County of Kent was officially formed.
Approximately 15 years ago, the Province of Ontario announced that it would be moving the Provincial Court Offices from the original location on 17 Seventh street, to it's present location on Grand Avenue in the City of Chatham.
After 164 years of service, the Kent County Courthouse and Jail was officially closed in a ceremony on July 4th 2014. It is one of only four remaining buildings in Chatham that predate 1860.
After closing the original jail and courthouses, the Law Library and it’s contents were left in limbo, with the Province set to remove it all together. Councillor Doug Sulman asked for a Committee to be formed, which would represent the community's commitment to the heritage buildings. Upon visiting the library, Hans van der Doe, on behalf of the Heritage Committee, found not only the first Law Books, donated by Kent's first presiding Judge, but a time capsule of the history of Law and Justice that spanned 154 years in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.
At this time, along with the support from members of the Kent Law Association, and the Provincial Courts, Hans was able to secure the library to be left "in situ".
However, on the 20th of May of this year, Hans learned that, once again, the Province of Ontario was planning on dismantling the Law Library and discarding the books.
The rightful owners of this building, Library and historical books are The Citizens of Chatham-Kent.
In 1973 the building and property was sold to the Province of Ontario by the County of Kent, for For One Dollar. We would like to see it sold back to Chatham-Kent for the same amount, as a "Gesture of good faith, to be kept as a Symbol of Kent's Earliest Beginnings as a Untied Community".
We need to save not only this Library, but also the building itself. This Library is an artifact. It's not just a collection of old dusty books, tables and chairs. Without those Law books, We would never have been able to hold Council, or Courts.
Without this Library, Chatham-Kent as we know it would not have been. This is our Heritage. This is our Inheritance. This is our right.
Please Sign and share, to let the province know that we value our heritage, and are entitled to its preservation.
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Lesley Pelletier needs your help with “Chatham-Kent Council: Save Our Heritage. Save the Chatham-Kent Founding Legal Library”. Join Lesley and 559 supporters today.