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New medical clinic to open in old Yarmouth courthouse


Doctor and his wife purchased Yarmouth landmark

A new medical clinic is scheduled to open in Yarmouth later this fall.

Renovations have been underway on the old courthouse, opposite Yarmouth Town Hall, for the past six months.

General internal medicine specialist Dr. Brian Moses, who was born and raised in South Ohio, Yarmouth County, and his wife, Tamara, purchased the building June 1, 2017.

Tamara Moses says the couple looked at other buildings for their project but found the old courthouse had the most potential and was “beautiful.”

Their design for the building includes doctors’ offices on the first floor, including three internists, four family doctors and a nurse practitioner. An area for an infusion clinic is also in the plan along with a shared office for two social workers/counsellors.

As demolition proceeded, we uncovered some surprises, unsurprisingly, given the age of the building, and the fact that we were unable to track down some decent old blueprints. Some were good surprises, some not so good. This old chimney was one of the latter. There was a hallway planned, right where this chimney stood. It wasn’t worth tearing out, so we needed to re-work the plans around it. On the bright side, it will be fitted with a liner, and used for exhaust from the new heating system. Another thing we found, throughout the building, was massive amounts of old “speed tile”. I’ve since found out that speed tile is a structural clay, popular at the turn of the century, and up to the 1950s. It was used in roofs, walls, floors, for structural and non-structural uses, but especially for fireproofing. This stuff was/is everywhere! We found suspected concrete walls were indeed poured concrete walls, that would need to be cut through at certain points, a covered up, but beautiful old doorway, and where the original building ended, some beautifully preserved brick. As much as is possible will remain on the second floor. I love the character of this building! #yarmouth #townofyarmouth #yarmouthns #courthouse #oldcourthouse #renovation #historicbuilding #brick_amazing #brick_vision #brickwall #brickbuilding #exposedbrick #chimney #brickchimney

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There are three apartments on the second floor in the rear of the building (ready for occupation in September). One of the them is already spoken for. The former courtroom is being left as is for now, but Phase 2 of the project calls for renovations that will retain the beautiful woodwork and create medical lecture space for either Dr. Moses’s use or those who wish to rent it.

Tamara, who has a home-based travel agency and is mother to five children (ages seven to 17), has also been working as the “go-between” for the project. The couple has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations.

“We knew it was a big job, but I don’t think we realized exactly how big until we were into it. It was a total gut job,” she said. “But it’s all good.”

Graham Construction is the main contractor. An elevator is being installed in the facility and there’s a wheelchair-accessible entrance on north side.

Where possible, the character and heritage of certain elements in the old facility is being retained.

In all the months I’ve been coming to the courthouse, I’ve never noticed this beauty. It’s probably because this door was open, and had stuff piled up in front of it. One of the construction guys brought me downstairs to the basement to show me this, when they found it. It’s an old safe door. Isn’t it stunning? I mean look at those hinges!! The detail in the picture!! I’m no expert, but it looks to me to be from the 1920s. Art Deco at its finest, and that certainly fits the timeline of this building. And let me tell you, it weighs a ton! Too bad it’s in the basement. Another fun find, were these old ledgers. The oldest dates I found recorded were from 1922, and there must be about a dozen of them! Unfortunately they were damp and some were moldy. I separated them so they could dry out. I wonder if the local museums would be interested in these? #yarmouth #townofyarmouth #yarmouthns #courthouse #oldcourthouse #renovation #historicbuilding #safe #1920s #1920sarchitecture #ledger #oldsafedoor

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An old safe will be turned into a bathroom off the staff boardroom. Exposed brick has been left in some of the apartments.

Radiant in-floor heat has been installed on the first floor. The building was not insulated and Tamara says there were radiators “all over the place.”

Although no new doctors from out of the area will be joining the clinic at this stage, Dr. Moses is optimistic the facility will draw them.

“You’d never recruit a younger person to a solo practice in this day and age. You need to have clinics like this to get young people to come and to stay,” he said.

He added that another drawing point that needs to be addressed is air service.

“My personal feeling is we need to get the airport working before we’re able to get physicians here regularly to stay. A lot of them come and then they just get frustrated that every time they have to travel somewhere they have to drive three-and-a-half hours. I mean, I grew up here so it’s no big deal for me but for a lot of people it’s too much.”

Dr. Brian Moses Background

Dr. Moses is the site medical lead, YRH; Chief of Internal Medicine, Western Zone; NSHA Zone medical executive co-director, Western Zone. He was also nominated and recently made a fellow of the ACP in April. (American College of Physicians)

Let’s skip down to the basement. This big brute was installed in the courthouse in 1962! It’s an oil burning boiler. One of the things that took a long time to sort out, was how we were going to heat this building. The square footage is about 18,000 sq ft, about 6,000 sq ft on each level. Before we purchased the building, the bank that owned it, dug up the old oil tank, which had been buried under the sidewalk. Apparently that’s a no-no now, so it had to go anyway. Environmental testing took place, to see if any oil had contaminated the surrounding ground, and thankfully everything came back fine. We had the boiler looked at, to see if it could be operational, but it was recommended to just start fresh. I really wanted to do some solar panels, but was told it wouldn’t be worth the investment, and we’d need a secondary heat source anyway. In the end, we decided to put in two smallish efficient oil burning boilers, to power the radiant in-floor heat on the main level, and hot water baseboards in the apartments as well as electric in-floor heat in the apartment bathrooms. I would have liked to avoid using oil, but it seemed the best choice for a building of this size. And speaking of size, I’m not sure this picture does that boiler justice. That thing is huge!! And heavy. I happened to be at the courthouse, nosing around, while the men were removing this from the boiler room. More than a few choice words escaped their mouths, (they didn’t know I was there). It is outside awaiting removal, and will need the help of a crane, no doubt. #yarmouth #townofyarmouth #yarmouthns #renovation #historicbuilding #boiler #boilerroom #courthouse #oldcourthouse

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Courthouse background

The community’s first courthouse was built in 1820, but two of its three replacements succumbed to fire. The courthouse built in 1863 burned down in 1921. A new one was erected, only to be destroyed by fire a decade later. The courthouse building now being renovated was opened in 1933 and survived a 1988 fire.

The two-storey structure is built of brick. Its functional exterior incorporates traditional Georgian features and symmetry that produce a blend of the old and the new.

The building ceased use as a courthouse when the Yarmouth Justice Centre opened at 164 Main St. in 2009.

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