Alma College An Architectural, Historical Treasure

Vox Pop Article to London Free Press
By: Barb McCallum

Alma College has played a significant part in the history and heritage of Southwestern Ontario for more than 100 years.

Alma was not just a boarding school, but also a part of the St. Thomas community. Most longtime residents of this area have some connection to Alma. Perhaps they had family members who were students or staff, or took art, music or swimming lessons at Alma.

Perhaps someone in your family was married in the chapel or the amphitheatre or attended musical performances in the arts theatre.

Alma College played a significant role in the community, providing jobs (at Alma and in the community) and boosting tourism. As an academic institution, Alma College put St. Thomas on the map internationally.

The Alma College alumnae believe Alma is an important part of the history of this region. The building is an architectural gem that should be preserved.

On Jan. 13, Brian Squires of Alma Heritage Estates, spoke fervently to St. Thomas city council, appealing to them once again to reconsider the Alma property as a location for the new Valleyview Seniors' residence. We understand Squires had a plan to save Alma, which relied on a partnership with the city. We also understand city council must always have the wise and proper use of municipal funds at the forefront of their decisions.

Following the city's decision (Jan. 13) not to select the Alma property for Valleyview, Squires applied on Jan. 16 for a demolition permit for Alma. He now says the Alma buildings cannot be saved.

As a result, we stand to lose one of the major historical sites of this area.

We are at a crossroads. It is the hope of the Alma College International Alumnae Association that other possible solutions for the preservation and restoration of Alma can still be found.

If there are investors out there who are interested in saving Alma, we hope that they will talk to Squires.If there is a buyer out there who can save Alma, we hope Squires will sell to him. Squires has said all along his goal was only to preserve Alma. If someone else can do it, let them.

The Alma College International Alumnae Association believes the Alma building should be preserved as part of the history of this area. We also believe a viable purpose for the restored building and property can be found. Let's show the world that we value our history.

VoxPop provides readers an opportunity to comment on topical subjects. Barb McCallum is President of the Alma College International Alumnae Association.