'Sad day for built heritage': Richmond Cottage set for demolition

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'Sad day for built heritage': Richmond Cottage set for demolition

'Sad day for built heritage': Richmond Cottage set for demolition

Time is up for the historic Richmond Cottage off Shaw Street in the west end of St. John's. 

After a year-long reprieve for the city to find a new buyer to restore the home, built in 1848, Coun. Dave Lane says the May 1 deadline came with no salvation for the structure.

"This is a pretty sad day for built heritage," Lane said Monday.

'It's a daunting task'

When the property's owner, Wrightland Development Corporation, said it wanted to demolish the structure last year because it couldn't be restored, the city disagreed.

"Our belief from experts was that this can be restored," said Lane. They made a deal to find a new buyer within a year, or else approve the developer's request for demolition. 

"That time has passed, we had about a dozen individual parties ... but it just didn't hit the criteria," said Lane, chair of the Richmond Cottage Committee set up to help save the once stately home.  

He said the owner can submit an application to demolish, which council will vote on, now that the year has gone by without any takers. 

"It is a daunting task and finding that person with the funds and the expertise and the willingness to do so is very challenging," he said. 

Lane said the home was listed for $350,000 and restoration was estimated at another $1.2 million. 

'Proactive approach' moving forward

Lane's work to save Richmond Cottage may be done, but he said the city has been working on taking a more "proactive approach" to built heritage. 

"We've had a number of significant properties lost in the recent past ... However, I think we're making strides in the right direction," he said, referencing a new bylaw that's in the works that would clarify issues related to heritage preservation and development.

Lane said the City of St. John's now has a list of heritage homes, with nine designated in the past six months and seven ready to be designated. There is also new municipal and provincial money available for eligible heritage homes and homeowners.

Richmond Cottage's interior has been documented in the past year, and Lane said some pieces of its "beautiful architecture and ornaments" will be salvaged. 

"So that people can continue the story of Richmond Cottage and of our city."

As for its future incarnation, Paul Fowler, co-owner of Wrightland Development Corporation, said in an email that the company will release its plans for the property "in the coming weeks."