Owner wants town to keep open mind
The mayor said restoring the property is beyond the town’s financial means, as is the case for the Flanagans.
They purchased Ridley Hall in 2000 — the same year the couple were married. Their intentions to renovate one room each year were scuttled by a fire in November of 2003, believed to have been caused by vandals.
Ridley Hall got its start as the home of fish merchant Thomas Ridley. According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Foundation (NLHF), Ridley Hall served as a focal point for social, economic, and political activity during his time as a local businessman.
It was used as a cable station in the 1930s and ‘ 40s before reverting to a residential space. It was last inhabited in the 1980s and registered as a heritage structure in 1994.
A companion stone building, the Ridley Offices, was built in 1838 and has been maintained to this day.
Even with a heritage designation, the ruins of Ridley Hall are not protected from demoli- tion orders.
In an interview with The Compass in March, NLHF executive director George Chalker said the building never made use of restoration grants offered by the foundation. Had owners done so, insurance would give NLHF the legal right to prevent others from destroying the building.
Lacking a roof, Chalker added that Ridley Hall’s exposure to water creates structural problems.
“If water gets in, then you have to freezethaw it, and when it freezes, it expands and makes the cracks bigger, and then more water can get in the next time,” he told The Compass. “Eventually, so much water gets in that it pumps out the stone, and things start to crumble.”
The Flanagans will be in the province next month and hope to meet with council during their stay.
“I hope they’ll maintain an open mind,” he said, adding the community as a whole should be consulted on the building’s fate.
Coombs said he will be open to speaking with them.
“ We’d just like to see what they’re going to do with it,” he said.