Wilkes House opens its doors
New residence and recreation centre
The former residence of one of Brantford’s founding families is now home to a new generation of Laurier Brantford students.
The Wilkes House will provide 40 student beds in 7 suites, as well as a recreation centre with a gymnasium, fully equipped weight and cardio rooms, and speciality interest space for activities ranging from yoga and pilates to aerobics and dance.
Built in 1870, the Alfred J. Wilkes House underwent a $5-million heritage renovation to restore the building, which was vacant for years and had fallen into disrepair. It was often thought that the building should be torn down, and an application for demolition had even been filed and denied.
“One of the things that makes this campus unique is historical preservation,” said Leo Groarke, dean of the Brantford campus. “Five years ago, this house was the worst looking house in a bad horror movie, and now look at it.”
Laurier President Bob Rosehart commented that the sixth building for Laurier Brantford is another milestone, saying “It’s far surpassed our dreams.”
The renovation was undertaken by the JG Group of Companies and President Shawky Fahel, who also facilitated the purchase of the land.
Brantford city council continued their support of Laurier Brantford’s growth with a $975,000 contribution. The mayor thanked council once again for having “the courage and the vision” to support the university and the heritage block initiative. This marks the completion of the third corner of the Heritage Block, joining Post House residence and the recently completed $2.7 million Student Centre.
“Nothing we have done or will do will leave a great legacy to future generations than the development of the university,” he said.
Currently, work is being done on the next building on the heritage block. JG and Fahel are currently converting an old limestone house into faculty offices and a newsroom for the journalism program, which will be called Faculty House.