Provost Skene’s House will finally reopen to the public “this side of Christmas” following a £3.8 million revamp.
For more than two years Aberdeen’s oldest building on Guestrow has been undergoing an extensive refurbishment.
The work is designed to make it wind and water-tight – but will also include the creation of a Hall of Heroes, honouring some of the north-east’s most notable residents.
Efforts to complete the revamp of the 16th-Century home were held up by Covid-19 restrictions.
Provost Skene’s House ‘fit for next century’
But now it has been revealed the public will be allowed into the building by the end of the year, with the work nearing completion.
And an opening date for the house is expected to be made public in the coming days, with councillors told it would be “safe to say” it will be open “this side of Christmas”.
Members of the council’s capital programme committee heard updates on the progress of the work, which began in July 2019.
Officers told councillors the project – which has seen 14 tonnes of lead and 30 tonnes of mortar used – will ensure the building is “fit for purpose for the next 50 to 100 years”.
Row over building work
Last month a row erupted over the redevelopment after SNP councillor Michael Hutchison raised concerns about the quality of the work.
He claimed much of the historic brickwork had been covered with mortar and accused the ruling administration of “disregarding the city’s heritage”.
His comments led to a bad-tempered furore at the subsequent meeting of Aberdeen City Council’s city growth and resources committee amid claims staff involved in the £3.8 million restoration had been left “distraught”.
Mr Hutchison will be referred to Scotland’s standards watchdog, with members of the council’s administration claiming his actions breached the councillors’ code of conduct.
Independent Alliance group leader Marie Boulton said trade union Unite had complained about Mr Hutchison’s comments, and said staff had been left “upset, disappointed and distraught”.
In a report, the council’s senior architect Colin Doig acknowledged Provost Skene’s House looks “a little different” – but claimed that is because the previous cement-based mortar was “damaging”.
Instead contractors have used a traditional lime-based mortar, which they claim is “breathable”, will protect the stonework and has already alleviated problems with damp and cold inside the 16th-Century building.