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Benefit Concert for Acadian, Irish & Scottish Heritage Building in Bathurst:
Doucet Hennessy House Originally Built in 1808
Friends in Song, a well known musical ensemble directed by Tom Kyte of Bathurst, leads a lineup which includes Stay Tuned with Rosalind Kennedy-Townsend, Friends o' Erin with John Mann, and Petit-Rocher based duet Eugene and Guylaine. The event will be held at the Paul Ouellette Room at the KC Irving Centre in Bathurst on Sunday, May 27 from 2-4 pm.
Originally built in 1808 by Acadian pioneer Charles Doucet, the Doucet Hennessy House is one of the oldest, continuously occupied houses in north-eastern New Brunswick. In 2010, a group of concerned citizens established the charitable Association Maison Doucet Hennessy House Association (AMDHHA) to save the heritage building. In March, 2012, the charity purchased the house with funds raised in the community, across Canada and the United States.
A scientific analysis of wood core samples taken by Mount Allison University's Dendrochronology Lab in 2010 established that wood in the house's foundation was cut in 1808. Association co-President Rolande Doucet-O'Connell, who is a direct descendent of Charles Doucet, says "the scientific data ties in with his receipt of a land grant in 1807, the terms of which demanded that he build a house on his lot within five years."
By 1812, Charles Doucet was described by visiting Roman Catholic Bishop Plessis of Quebec as one of the "wealthiest and most successful" Acadians in all of New Brunswick, proving that Doucet had made considerable strides in his social status since obtaining the 1807 grant.
Additional samples taken by the Dendrochronology Lab show wood from 1837 and 1858, indicating that the Doucet Hennessy house was built in stages over a period of fifty years in the 1800s. It remained in the Doucet family until the building and 200 acres of farmland was purchased by the Irish-Scottish Hennessy family in 1914.
An architectural analysis by Jacques Boucher of Jacques Boucher Architecte Ltée has given the charity guidance in its plans to restore and renovate the property and a historical research report is currently being prepared by Acadian historian, Fidele Theriault. The next step is to develop a business plan that the charity can use a blueprint for development.
Association co-President Melynda Jarratt said the funds raised at the May 27 benefit concert will go towards the costs of maintenance while the charity begins the process of developing a business plan that will lead to the building's eventual renovation and restoration.
Jarratt says the charity has ruled out turning the heritage building into a museum. She cites the example of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre in Fredericton and the Centre Culturel Aberdeen Cultural Centre in Moncton as their model for development, saying there will be nothing quite like it in Bathurst:
"There are 17 rooms in the Doucet Hennessy House and we believe its best use will be as a creative cultural space for artists and creative producers who can rent studio space in a one of a kind restored heritage building," Jarratt said.
Other uses for the space include meetings and conferences, intimate gatherings such as small weddings, baptisms and birthdays, staff parties, public events and educational activities related to arts, culture and heritage.
Jarratt says it's important that the Association be financially independent by developing reliable revenue streams, like the Fredericton Charlotte Street Arts Centre which has 100% capacity with a waiting list for rental space: "We're preserving history from the perspective of non-profit enterprise and we know it works. That's a win win for Bathurst and for heritage enthusiasts everywhere."
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Association Maison Doucet Hennessy House Association Inc.