RBC Helps Promote Heritage Conservation through Donation to Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO)

historic postcard showing the inside of the port hope opera house
Inaugural performance at the St. Lawrence Music Hall, later to be known as the Opera House, at its opening in 1871.
Photo Courtesy of porthopehistory.com

This week, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) concluded an agreement to transfer the historic Opera House building to the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO).

current photo of rbc building at 85 walton st port hope ontario

The Opera House building, located at 85 Walton Street, is situated at the southwest corner of Walton and John Streets in downtown Port Hope and holds a dominant position within the downtown core. Formerly known as O’Neill’s Opera House, it was constructed in 1871 and remains an important anchor to the Port Hope Heritage District. For many years the Opera House was a cultural and entertainment centre for Port Hope. Historic posters still pasted to walls of the stage area depict the acts that played there.

Until recently, this building housed an RBC branch. After the RBC vacated the building, the Municipality took an active role in connecting the Bank with the ACO, to ensure that the building would be preserved for future community use.

“The ACO and RBC have worked diligently to make this come to fruition,” says Julie Mavis, Chair of ACO Port Hope. “The building is an important piece of Port Hope’s history. We are grateful to be part of the conservation of this property and thank RBC for their generous contribution.”

postcard of early port hope john st looking south

“RBC is pleased to transfer its former Port Hope premises to the Architecture Conservancy of Ontario,” said Gordon O’Neill, Regional Vice President, RBC.  “With ACO as the steward of the building, our hope is that in future, it may continue to be a vibrant public place, in the heart of the historic downtown of Port Hope.”

“After years of negotiations and discussions, I am so pleased that this downtown gem will be maintained under the stewardship of the ACO and remain a vital part of our community heritage,” adds Bob Sanderson, Mayor of the Municipality of Port Hope. “This initiative is another wonderful example of community collaboration and the Municipality is proud to have played a key role in ensuring that the Opera House, its heritage and legacy, will remain a part of our landscape.”

The Municipality would like to thank the dedicated staff at Cushman and Wakefield for their work behind the scenes in bringing this project to fruition, as well as the collaborative efforts of the ACO and RBC for continuously advocating for our community.

About the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario

Founded in 1933, ACO is Ontario’s oldest province-wide heritage conservation organization. Its mission: Through education and advocacy, to encourage the conservation and reuse of structures, districts, and landscapes of architectural, historical, and cultural significance, to inspire and benefit Ontarians. ACO Port Hope branch provides extensive support for heritage conservation throughout the entire community.