WINDSOR -- The city is looking to open the doors to the oldest building in Windsor.

Council voted Monday night to begin negotiations with the Ontario Heritage Trust to gain access to the first floor of the Duff-Baby House in Sandwich Towne.

Immense lobbying went on behind the scenes to get this done. It's been years in the making, with petitions, letters to city councilors, provincial and federal politicians and the lobbying efforts by Les Amis Duff-Buby.

Built in 1798, one year after the founding of Sandwich Towne, the Duff-Baby House was a meeting place for Chief Tecumseh, headquarters for General Issac Brock and Henry Harrison during the war of 1812.

David Garlick, vice president of Les Amis Duff-Baby says it's an incredibly important building for the war of 1812 and afterwards.

“It also becomes important for the underground railroad, the history of Sandwich the history of Ontario and we think, the history of Canada," says Garlick.

Right now, the historic landmark isn't very accessible to the public.

“We get in four to five times a year and every time we open it up to give tours, we have between 100 and 300 people through the building, many of whom say they've never been in the building before," says Garlick.

Les Amis Duff-Baby has been persistently prodding politicians for more regular access.

Monday night, council unanimously agreed to enter negotiations with the Ontario Heritage Trust to lease the first floor.

"Yesterday was a clear signal to council that they're interested in moving forward," says councillor Fabio Costante.

The annual cost to rent and operate programming is $33,000.

The Ontario Heritage Trust would hike the rent two-per cent each year for the term of the agreement.

Money well spent, argues Costante.

"We can further market the house and make it part of this great puzzle that is Sandwich Towne's great history and story," he says.

Les Amis now hopes to raise money to install period-appropriate furnishings and hopes ultimately to run tours once weekly.

"If we can commit to being open every Sunday of the summer, then we'll be there every Sunday and we'll know that people will be coming into the building."

Mayor Drew Dilkens suggested the cost this year will be funded through the budget stabilization reserve fund.

For future years, it will become part of the budgeting process.

Part of motion is to petition the feds to recognize duff baby as an historical building.