Nova Scotia

Historic Dennis Building in Halifax facing demolition

Heritage Trust wants to save historic building, depsite problems

May 16, 2014

The Dennis Building was built in the 1860s, but was completely remodelled after a fire gutted the premises in 1912. (CBC)

Halifax’s landmark Dennis Building in downtown Halifax could soon be gone.

Labi Kousoulis, the cabinet minister responsible for government buildings, said he'll be recommending to cabinet that the Dennis Building be demolished.


"Saving the building at this point is not an option," he said.

Kousoulis said engineering reports, going back almost a decade, paint a bleak picture of the state of the building located at the corner of Granville and George streets.

Those reports say years of neglect have led to cracks, corrosion and crumbling mortar. Parts of the building are sagging noticeably, and engineers warn of the possibility of walls collapsing.

“The building is not safe to have any employees in. There are mould issues, there is also some asbestos issues, and as well there is currently a safety issue with the building itself — that pieces of it might fall off and that’s why we have scaffolding around it, to protect any pedestrians,” said Kousoulis.

One report filed in 2010 says, "given the serious structural issues, the building should be demolished as soon as possible."

The Heritage Trust's Phil Pacey said the building was one of the first in Province House square and should be saved. (CBC)

The latest report, completed five months ago, even warns about a weakening of the building's foundation.

Kousoulis said in light of that he asked his officials two simple questions.

"Can the building be saved? Is it usable in its current state? And the answer came back no," he said.

He says the plan is to dismantle and store the building's granite facade.

The rest of the building will simply be demolished. Kousoulis said that could happen by the fall.

Phil Pacey, with the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, said his organization is going to try to convince the province not to tear down the Dennis Building.

"There is still a good hope and it's important to try and save this building because of its importance,” he said. 

“Province House square has a lot of tremendous assets. There’s this building, the art gallery and the Bank of Nova Scotia,” he said. “The Dennis Building is the first of that group, so it’s important to keep it.”

The group plans to meet with the minister next week to make its case.

The Dennis Building was built in the 1860s, but was completely remodelled after a fire gutted the premises in 1912.

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