History in ruins
Harbour Grace’s Ridley Hall inches towards demolition
The fate of an historic Harbour Grace building left in ruins since a fire in 2003 may soon be known, following a recent order by the town council asking the owners of Ridley Hall to either repair or destroy it within 30 days.
Meanwhile, the owners hope something can be done to save the heritage property, a large stone structure built in 1834.
In a letter dated June 28, 2011, the town asked Brian and Jean Flanagan of Red Deer, Alta. “to undertake repair or removal of this structure within 30 days to avoid further action by council.”
The letter also referenced the “dilapidated condition” of Ridley Hall.
Brian Flanagan responded with a letter of his own, which he also forwarded to the premier’s office, the provincial tourism department, and other local and regional parties.
In the letter, he expressed shock that the order was made prior to contacting the owners of Ridley Hall.
Speaking with Transcontinental Media by phone from Red Deer on July 11, Brian Flanagan said he and his wife periodically receive enquiries from interested parties about the property.
The Flanagans would require any potential purchaser of the land, located on Water Street near several other historic properties, to fully renovate Ridley Hall rather than replace it with a new building.
Even as a building in ruins, Brian Flanagan believes Ridley Hall’s present state is preferable to having it destroyed.
Mayor Don Coombs does not entirely agree, noting there are safety concerns surrounding its current condition.
“Nobody wants to see it gone, but nobody wants to see it like it is now either,” he said.
In forwarding his letter to the province, Brian Flanagan said he hopes government takes an interest in the status of the building.
Coombs said the town was in discussions with both levels of government during the 1990s, trying to secure funding to use Ridley Hall as a town hall, but the plan did not come to fruition.
The fate of Ridley Hall in Harbour Grace is uncertain. The stone building was built in 1834 and began life as the home of a fish merchant.