Charges laid after landmark heritage home demolished in Avonport

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Reid House in Avonport, N.S., is shown in 2006. (Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage - image credit)
Reid House in Avonport, N.S., is shown in 2006. (Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage - image credit)

The Kings County Historical Society in Nova Scotia says it hopes charges against a developer and company send a message to others thinking of tearing down heritage homes.

People were shocked when the Reid House was demolished in Avonport in December.

"It was a landmark," said Chris Gertridge, a board member of the Kings County Heritage Society. "It had, I feel, so much potential to be a really wonderful historic site, but now we're left with a mess."

The house dated back to the 1760s and was designated a provincial heritage property nearly 30 years ago. It was used as a farm, a tavern, a stagecoach stop, a courthouse, a post office and a polling station.

"It's just a great example of architecture of the time and certainly, in my opinion, one of the oldest houses around. You just don't find houses like this anymore," said Gertridge.

Charges fall under provincial acts

Bassam Nahas and Halifax-based Nanco Developments each face four charges, which were first reported by the SaltWire newspaper network last week.

Nahas and Nanco are each accused of two counts of demolishing a registered provincial heritage property without approval and removing objects from a protected site without a permit.

The charges fall under the Heritage Protection Act and the Special Places Protection Act.

While the municipality did issue a demolition permit, the province said the developer did not apply to deregister the building, which is a requirement under the Heritage Protection Act.

Neither Nahas nor Nanco Developments could be reached for comment.

A man who answered the phone number listed for the company denied any connection to Nanco Developments.

'You just can't bulldoze your way in'

Gertridge said even though months have passed, people are still grieving the loss of the home.

"We won't get the house back. But maybe — maybe — someone will think twice in the future before doing something similar," he said.

"I would hope it would send a message that you just can't bulldoze your way in and expect to get what you want. This, to me, was so mishandled."

He said in time, the local museum will likely do something to pay tribute to the heritage home. Because of its location right off the highway, it was considered a landmark by many in the community as a sign that they were home.

"It's hard to explain how I feel about the house. It's just something that meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people," said Gertridge.

Nahas and Nanco Developments are scheduled to appear in Kentville provincial court on Sept. 22.

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