Coun­cil ap­proves Ri­d­ley Hall de­mo­li­tion

Prospec­tive buyer would have 90 days to clear Har­bour Grace prop­erty

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

Of­fi­cials with the Town of Har­bour Grace have given per­mis­sion for the destruc­tion of Ri­d­ley Hall, a po­lar­iz­ing and di­lap­i­dated struc­ture in the town’s his­toric dis­trict.

With the build­ing up for sale by the own­ers Brian and Jean Flana­gan, it was de­cided at a May 10 coun­cil meet­ing that coun­cil would not stand in the way if an in­ter­ested party bought the prop­erty and tore it down.

“It’s not go­ing to be re­paired. The cost would be un­real,” said Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs. “So, we’ve de­cided to let the new own­ers tear it down.”

The real es­tate agent han­dling the prop­erty, built in 1834 by lo­cal mer­chant Thomas Ri­d­ley, on be­half of the Flana­gans, made the ini­tial in­quiry to town ad­min­is­tra­tor Lester For­ward to see what re­stric­tions would be ac­com­pa­ny­ing the sale of the prop­erty.

“I think for the bet­ter­ment of peo­ple and the bet­ter­ment of the build­ing, un­for­tu­nately, it may have to come down,” said Coombs.

Any prospec­tive own­ers will have 90 days to tear down Ri­d­ley Hall and clear the prop­erty be­fore re­build­ing.

An­other re­stric­tion for pos­si­ble own­ers is the “rules of the her­itage dis­trict,” said Coombs.

He said it would be great if some­one could come in and re­store the prop­erty, but that is un­re­al­is­tic, Coombs added. The prop­erty is listed at $80,000. Coombs posed the ques­tion to coun­cil about sal­vaging and stor­ing the build­ing ma­te­ri­als so some­one could take a stab at re­build­ing Ri­d­ley Hall in the fu­ture, but there was not much of a re­sponse.

I think for the bet­ter­ment

of peo­ple and the bet­ter­ment of the build­ing, un­for­tu­nately, it may have

to come down.

— Don Coombs

“In an ideal world, it would get fixed,” he said.

Coombs has fond mem­o­ries of the build­ing; hav­ing been in­side on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions and said it would be dis­heart­en­ing to see the place go.

“It’s di­lap­i­dated, it’s un­for­tu­nate, and, ob­vi­ously, if some­one isn’t go­ing to step up to the plate to throw money into it,” he said. “If it can be sold, re­fur­bished and an­other nice place put in the town then that is some­thing we have to look as coun­cil.”

Has be­come a haz­ard

In re­cent years, Ri­d­ley Hall has be­come a hang­out for youth in the Con­cep­tion Bay North town.

A fire in Novem­ber of 2003 gut­ted the his­toric struc­ture, caus­ing the slate roof to crum­ble. An­other fire in early April caused more dam­age to the build­ing.

“We’ve had in­quiries and com- plaints that the kids are get­ting into it now,” said Coombs. “It has be­come a haz­ard.”

The town has tried to keep peo­ple out with no tres­pass­ing signs and boarded up en­try­ways, but it has done lit­tle to pre­vent the prob­lem.

“How long do you let some­one ac­cess the build­ing be­fore some­one loses a life?” Coombs asked rhetor­i­cally.

His­toric build­ing

Ac­cord­ing to the New­found­land and Labrador Her­itage Foun­da­tion, Ri­d­ley Hall was a hub of so­cial, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity for Thomas Ri­d­ley.

Dur­ing the 1930s, through un­til the ‘40s, the build­ing served as a cable sta­tion be­fore switch­ing back to a res­i­den­tial dwelling.

It was deemed a her­itage struc­ture in 1995.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful build­ing lot, with an ocean view,” said Coombs. “I’ll be sad to see it go.”

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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