Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story featured a photo of the Willowbank mansion, not the former Laura Secord school.
The former Laura Secord Memorial School in the village of Queenston has a new owner.
The school has been sold for just over $2.2 million to Canadian Niagara Heritage Inc. of Niagara Falls, owned by the Shahani family.
“It’s very important to Willowbank because investing the net proceeds will allow us to use the earnings for the operation of the school restoration arts,” said John Scott, vice-chair of the board of the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts.
The property, just over an acre in size, was owned by Willowbank but is no longer needed by the school.
Willowbank will use a portion of the money from the sale to discharge a mortgage and invest the balance to support school operations into the future, Scott said.
“The certainty of annual contributions from the investment will be a welcome supplement to the resources needed to provide our students with the best learning experience possible in restoration arts,” he added.
No plans for the future of the site have been unveiled yet.
“We are pleased to have acquired this property and have agreed to permit the school to run certain classes at the site until the end of the year,” said a spokesperson for Canadian Heritage Niagara.
In February, when Willowbank announced it would be putting the property on the market, Scott noted, “We’ve been analyzing Willowbank and what it needs to operate and be sustainable in the long-term.”
“We said, ‘What do we need, what don’t we need?’ and you come down to the fact that that particular school is not required. We basically don’t use it,” he told The Lake Report.
“It needs to be maintained and the resources we have we want to dedicate towards the operation of the (Willowbank) school, so it makes no sense for us to continue it and it makes all kinds of good sense for somebody else to have it.”
Willowbank, an internationally acclaimed, not-for-profit, private career college, trains experts in a variety of fields related to heritage restoration, conservation and adaptive reuse of existing older buildings.