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Sunday May 3rd, 2015

Posted at 11:00am

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A wedding set up inside the Water’s Edge Event Centre (photo courtesy Carly Nicodemo)

Reusing and re-purposing have been the key concepts of transforming Our Lady of the Rosary church at the corner of Riverside and Drouillard into The Water’s Edge Event Centre.

With such a deep history in the city of Windsor, Larry Horowitz purchased the 107-year-old building from the Roman Catholic Diocese of London for just $1 nearly a year and a half ago. Since then, the building has undergone significant renovations.

“The church planned on boarding it up and hopefully tearing it down…they had no other use and everybody including the city of Windsor turned it down for $1,” said Horowitz. “I think the city really has to look at how they can help people maintain historical buildings. There aren’t any real incentives in place. Other cities have ongoing tax inducements, a rebate on property tax every year, every city does … this city has failed at that.”

There’s four parts to the project, the first being the Grande Ballroom, which with some re-purposing and T.L.C. has evolved into a picturesque venue, one you would only think to see on postcards.

The second part of the project is the courtyard, which will seat approximately 175 people and have a castle-like courtyard feel to it.

The third phase will be the balcony areas overlooking to Grande Ballroom. There is currently one over the front entrance of the building which Horowitz said can seat approximately 175 guests and he is also pursing the idea of a balcony on the opposing end of the venue.

The fourth part of the project is the lower level, which currently has the working name “Rum Runners” and Horowitz said could be another area for weddings, stag and doe events and shows.

The main idea of the venue is multipurpose, to show off the beauty of Windsor and the history embedded within the site.

“We think this could be one of the biggest tourist attractions Windsor could have,” said Horowitz. “People are already talking about it in other cities and want to come see it … I love historical buildings, I found a way of re-purposing it. I realized that it was a gem and that people could really enjoy it. In every other city this would be the place to go, it would be one of the greatest places in the city to see.”

Some of the highlights in the re-purposing of the venue include the bar area, which was built completely out of old church pews. The stain glass has remained in tact and is displayed prominently in the Grande Ballroom.

“That’s what makes things beautiful, that’s what makes them attractive, that’s what brings in tourism,” said Horowitz. “They want that, everybody wants that, everybody wants a bit of history … Some of the greatest people in Windsor’s history have been here, have gone to church here and this is their home so we want to bring them back and make them feel comfortable.”

While Horowitz was not specific, he said the renovation costs were “in the many thousands of dollars,” and he has done it on his own without grants from the city, however he firmly believes they are headed in the right direction with the venue, already having more than a dozen events booked and a trial wedding, which took place recently.

An open house is scheduled on May 6th from 5pm to 8:30pm.

“I think it was a challenge, in this city of all cities where re-purposing buildings has been so unimportant it was a challenge to take one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and re-purpose it,” said Horowitz. “We’ve already had inquiries, booked well over 15 events and people call from all over the world wanting to know about it and wanting to come see it.”

The bar in the Grande Ballroom was created out of the old church pews.
(Photo by Jolene Perron)

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