SAINT JOHN– Cooke Inc. will soon be ready for employees to move into its new office space in an old synagogue in uptown Saint John.
Cooke purchased the Shaarei Zedek Synagogue back in 2017. The building was constructed more than 150 years ago and was vacant for about eight years before it was purchased by the company. Now after almost three years of extensive renovations, employees will be moving in over the coming weeks.
Quispamsis-based Glenhar Builders was the lead contractor on the project. Cooke also worked with local architect Bob Boyce, an expert on Saint John heritage buildings.
“This is a provincially designated historic site, so it was very important throughout the renovation process to take the time that we needed to make sure all the architectural and heritage elements were kept intact as much as possible,” said Joel Richardson, vice-president of public relations for Cooke Aquaculture Inc., on a media tour of the nearly-finished building on Tuesday.
Many of the renovations included repurposing old exterior windows on the inside of the building. The exterior windows were replaced with more energy efficient ones in the same architectural design. The synagogue’s old pews can be seen throughout the building, as seating for employees and guests. A number of columns in the building were also refinished and restored.
“It was a priority of the Cooke family to make sure that as many of the architectural structures were kept intact and repurposed,” said Richardson.
Cooke currently has around 1,400 employees in New Brunswick overall. About 100 of them are based in several Saint John area offices. The building will hold around 60, but Richardson says they haven’t determined which divisions will relocate to the new space as of yet.
“We expect to have employees over here within the next week or two,” he said. “It hasn’t been determined exactly which divisions within Cooke are going to be coming over here at this point in time.”
Take a look inside the new Cooke office below: