Bear River’s most colourful building is topless these days and by the end of summer may have disappeared from the landscape.
Bonnie MacLeod is one of the current owners of the village’s most photographed store, which was home, until 2006, to Oddacity Designs.
MacLeod says when she and her partners purchased the condemned building last fall they had hoped to save it. An engineer’s report, however, revealed that repairs to its ‘underneath’—the building is on stilts—would cost in the neighbourhood of $20,000. Those projected expenses would just be the beginning; they don’t include the many repairs that would be required to restore the rest of the structure.
MacLeod says she will soon be meeting with a representative from Annapolis County and the meeting should help determine exactly what can be done with the property.
She says the demolition is dividing the town. There are those who feel strongly the building should be saved and others who will be happy to see it go. “Believe me, if I had all kinds of money, I would definitely be saving it,” says MacLeod.
Zoe Knorek-onysko is the artist who transformed the building in the mid-90’s. She painted it bright contrasting colours, added lyrics from songs by Bob Dylan and gave it a checkerboard roof.
Knorek-onysko says the Dylan lyrics mean different things to different people. “For me, they expressed the experience of living in Bear River but not having been born here. Others have related to them for other reasons. There was a sort of multi-layered intention behind it.”
The building’s history is as colourful as its exterior. Built in the late 1800s it has been home to a general store, ice cream parlour, bakery-café, millinery shop, and electronics store.
When Knorek-onysko became owner in 1983 she operated it as the Pink Flamingo café before converting it to a vintage clothing shop. In its last incarnation it was home to Oddacity Designs, a business Knorek-onysko moved to a neighbouring Bear River location in 2006.
Knorek-onysko says she totally understands the dilemma MacLeod and her partners are facing. “We have so few buildings downtown here it’s sad, but I understand why it may have to come down. At the same time, I know they have a real sensitivity. If they replace it, they won’t put up something that doesn’t belong in Bear River.”