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Roseland renos are underway in New Glasgow

Alex MacDonald, Jamie MacGillivray and Marlin Plett stand inside the Roseland which is being renovated to become a restaurant.
Alex MacDonald, Jamie MacGillivray and Marlin Plett stand inside the Roseland which is being renovated to become a restaurant. - Adam MacInnis

Plans call for a restaurant and a preservation of the past

NEW GLASGOW – The Roseland is getting a new life.

Work is now underway to add a redesigned entry to the north side of the historic building, and if all goes according to plan, a restaurant will open inside next year.

The building is best known as being the place where Viola Desmond took her stand against segregation by refusing to give up her seat in what was in 1946 the Roseland Theatre. In more recent years it was operated as a cabaret.

When Jamie MacGillivray purchased it several years ago, it had been condemned because of the poor condition of the roof and was at risk of being demolished. He replaced the roof, gutted the interior and restored the front wall, but it has sat largely untouched until now waiting for a plan to come to fruition for it.

Now with the help of TruLine Design home and building designer Marlin Plett, MacGillivray is moving forward with a plan they hope will preserve history and add a modern look.

“Marlin has been a godsend, because what we’re missing is the design element,” MacGillivray said.

Until now, he said they’ve had to rely on architects in Halifax and it’s ended with a gap in communication and geography, MacGillivray said.

But by having someone like Plett, who can deal with situations immediately, they’ve been able to up their turnaround time. Plett not only is doing the design work, but is project manager.

“It was totally what we were missing because everything was too slow,” MacGillivray said. “I’m a full-time lawyer and I don’t know anything about this stuff. Marlin has filled that need. He’s like the cog that’s going to speed things up and make it happen.”

Plett says he is enjoying the opportunity.

“It’s really exciting to be working on something that’s got the history that this building does,” he said. “Because the history the building has, we want the industrial look, but you kind of want to attach the history to the new building as well.”

To do that he’s leaving exposed the metal bridge inside that was built at Maritime Steel. He’s also going to be incorporating pieces of metal from the Maritime Steel building into the interior design.

“We hope it’ll have a lot of New Glasgow’s heritage built into it,” MacGillivray said.

Additionally, they’re planning to hang a small plane from the ceiling. Another feature will be a smart brew system that will allow three flavours of beer to be freshly brewed on site.

The restaurant itself would be owned and run by Charles Quintanilla who is planning to lease the space. Quintanilla is currently chef at the Breakwater in Pictou. If everything goes as planned, they’d like to have it ready next spring.

The restaurant would seat up to 124 people and would offer a variety of food. During the warmer weather, the front garage style doors of the building would be able to open to allow fresh air to come in.

Honouring Viola Desmond

Special tribute will be paid to Desmond with artwork placed on the north wall of the Roseland.

MacGillivray Law held a contest encouraging people to submit artwork inspired by Desmond’s act of protest and more than 500 entries were entered prior to the July 31st deadline.

This week the artwork is being posted online and people will have a chance to vote once for their favourite until January 31.

“We’ll tally up the votes and then use those numbers as part of the decision for the winners,” said Alex MacDonald, who is coordinating the contest on behalf of MacGillivray Law.

She said they’re also working to put on an art show in Halifax later this year with the artwork that was submitted.

MacGillivray said the winning art will be embossed onto metal panels and hung on the side of the building.

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