His­tory in ru­ins

Har­bour Grace’s Ri­d­ley Hall inches to­wards de­mo­li­tion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON

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.

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