At Monday’s Committee of the Whole Council meeting, Marie Dressler Foundation (MDF) chair Rick Miller presented plans to expand the existing Museum at Dressler house to include two other Canadian female Oscar winners: Mary Pickford and Norma Shearer. Rick said that he had firm commitments from partners in the Venture who would supply material for the museum and assist with marketing. To proceed, Rick wanted the Town to revise the existing lease from just a part of Dressler House to include the entire building. Some councillors were concerned that the Cultural Plan was not yet complete but Nicole and Adam asked whether there could be any better use than the museum proposed.
- Dressler House was built around 1840 and was Marie Dressler’s birthplace on November 9, 1868.
- A restaurant was started there in 1937 by Lenah Field Fisher with 90% of visitors signing the visitors’ book coming from the U.S.
- A fire in 1989 caused significant damage but Bill Patchett helped found the Marie Dressler Foundation which raised funds to restore the building
- The property was transferred to the Town for $1 and was used for Town of Cobourg staff offices from 1990 to 2017 along with a small Marie Dressler Museum
- Town staff moved out a year ago and MDF upgraded the museum using a design by students in the University of Toronto Master of Museum Studies program (see link below).
- Mary Pickford won an Oscar for best actress in Coquette (1929)
- Norma Shearer won an Oscar for best actress for her role in The Divorcee (1930)
- Expand the lease to the entire building
- MDF would raise funds for the upgraded museum
- The Town would pay for upkeep of the exterior and MDF would pay for costs for the interior (e.g. utilities).
- Mary Pickford Foundation – owns rights to all Mary Pickford images and other material – these will all be available to the museum
- Darin Barnes (NormaShearer.com) – owns rights to all Norma Shearer images and other material – these will all be available to the museum
- Film Reference Library at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – includes many Mary Pickford artifacts
- University of Toronto Master of Museum Studies program (donation of design of expanded Museum)
- The Corporation of the Town of Cobourg (external maintenance)
Presentation Photos and Video
Rick’s presentation included background information, an outline of plans and a short video promoting the idea.
Nicole Beatty asked if in future the Museum would expand to feature other Canadian actresses – Rick said yes.
Emily Chorley wanted to delay a decision until the cultural master plan was completed but Rick said this would probably mean the project would be delayed by a year since the students designing work would start very soon and a commitment to the space is needed. However, both Nicole Beatty and Adam Bureau felt that there was no other suitable use of the building offered so were strongly in favour of approving the request. Seeing no support for her motion, Emily withdrew it and the lease expansion was unanimously approved. This means that a bylaw will be prepared for approval at the September 9 regular Council meeting.
- Rick Miller Presentation – download from Town Portal
- Marie Dressler Museum Upgrade – presentation by students 23 Feb 2015
- Dressler Museum Opens – 24 September 2016
The bylaw required to authorize the new lease was passed and became official at the Council meeting on September 10.