Edmonton gives $75,000 to help preserve Marshall McLuhan’s childhood home

01Feb12

City gives $75,000 to help preserve Marshall McLuhan’s childhood home.

City gives $75,000 to help preserve Marshall McLuhan’s childhood home. Photo by Rick MacWilliam

EDMONTON – Media philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s childhood home will be preserved after city councillors voted Wednesday to give the Edmonton Arts Council $75,000 to help buy the site.

The arts group will take out a mortgage to cover the rest of the $450,000 to $475,000 purchase price, but expects to recover that money within five years through fundraising, executive director John Mahon said.

His organization plans to use most of the main floor of the Highlands home, 11342 64th St., for a library and public displays about McLuhan, whose family moved there when he was one in 1912 and left for Winnipeg three years later.

The second floor, basement and garage will be turned into offices, suites for visiting artists and space for a writer in residence.

The arts council intends to have the home designated as a historic site to give it legal protection from demolition or major alterations.

“This is one-of-a-kind,” Mayor Stephen Mandel said.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate someone who was a well-known Edmontonian, and I don’t think we do enough of that.”

A council committee had recommended the city buy the house, then work with the arts council and other groups to help pay for it, but councillors were leery of the financial commitment involved.

Mandel urged the arts council to ensure the public has access to the site.

“They need to make it a community building … there’s no sense in having four walls and you can’t see who Marshall McLuhan was.”

McLuhan, a communications theorist and literary critic who coined such phrases as “the medium is the message,” worked most of his life at the University of Toronto, but often returned to Edmonton. He died in 1980.   http://tinyurl.com/7psrabx

 Edmonton

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