For the first time in decades, there is restoration work underway on one of the region's most celebrated historic sites.

The federal and provincial governments contributed $900,000 on Monday to a new vision for Ministers Island in the Bay of Fundy, where a grand estate was built by Sir William Cornelius Van Horne.

The funding will allow for the island to be better accommodate visitors. 

"If you don't have the accommodations, you can forget financial sustainability,” says Van Horne estate chairman Brian Usher. “There has to be something on this island that generates revenue in a significant manner."

The condition of some of the majestic buildings was laid bare last year when workers started removing a century of rot from the barn and silos.

When it was built over a century ago, it was the largest barn in Eastern Canada. Today, with new shingles and new windows, the building has returned to Van Horne's vision.

The board that oversees the estate wants the island to be less dependent on government and more self-sufficient. 

"That's going to be the goal, and certainly not going to be easy,” says New Brunswick Tourism Minister John Ames. “But seeing that the board is willing to go in that direction is extremely refreshing."

To meet the goal of self-sufficiency will also mean getting help from the private sector and communities along the Bay of Fundy.

Once people see activity here at a much greater level, there will significant interest and people saying, ‘How can I get involved in that?’" says New Brunswick Liberal MP Karen Ludwig.

It had been many years since significant work was done on any of the buildings on Ministers Island. Now with the barn showing proof of progress, there is renewed hope that more of the island can be brought back to its original grandeur.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.