Council approves Ridley Hall demolition
Prospective buyer would have 90 days to clear Harbour Grace property
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.
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.”