It’s official: the old Wyman Memorial Church property in the heart of Hudson is for sale.
While it’s been no secret that the property would eventually be sold, the listing officially went live last week with an asking price of a $1.25 million.
This isn’t just any property. Since 1907, the postcard-pretty church has provided a welcome patch of park-like green among the shops and restaurants in the village core, as well as an affordable space for cultural activities and children’s programming in Hudson.
For more than two decades, that lawn has been home to a daily swarm of young children attending the bilingual Hudson Preschool Centre, a longterm tenant in the building. It has also been home to a ballet school, the Hudson Puppet Festival (which will return this year to Wyman Nov. 1-3), as well as countless workshops and activities ranging from children’s musical theatre classes to adult line-dancing.
The million-dollar question is, who will buy it? And what, if any, of this legacy will be preserved?
The church sits on a large 37,000-square-foot lot which listing realtor Tania Ellerbeck said is zoned to permit multifamily residential, commercial or mixed-use development. There has already been some tire-kicking from potential buyers, Ellerbeck said. Some see condos. Others, restaurants and shops.
Both condos and commercial spaces could be good for Hudson (though I hope that the original red brick portion of the church would be preserved in either case). The town needs more affordable, small-footprint living for seniors and single-income families. More stores would be a boon for both local shoppers and the out-of-town visitors that are so crucial to the survival of Hudson’s commercial centre.
But if I could wave my magic wand, Wyman would become an arts and cultural centre where Hudson’s artists, musicians, actors and dancers could continue to gather for workshops and put on performances.
The town has the talent; it is bursting with creatives. It already draws artists and audiences from Montreal to eastern Ontario to take in plays at the Village Theatre, hear bands at the Hudson Music Festival and the annual Porchfest, participate in weekly jam sessions at local eateries, see artists on home turf during the annual Hudson Studio Tour, and much more.
Give the arts a home, and I’d love to see what else this tiny yet mighty arts town can do.
So . . . anyone got a million bucks to spare?