Demolition looms for 1880s heritage building in Saint John

Saint John's Trinity Royal Heritage Conservation Area is about to lose one of its historic buildings.

Safety hazard declared as rear brick wall of 167-173 Prince William St. is moving

Saint John's Trinity Royal Heritage Conservation Area is about to lose one of its historic buildings.

The Armstrong and Bruce Building at 167-173 Prince William St., which is designated as a heritage property, has been declared structurally unsound and will be demolished.

The heritage Armstrong and Bruce Building on Prince William Street in Saint John is to be demolished in the next few months. (CBC)
The structure was built in the 1880s and looks fine from the front, but its rear brick wall is moving and has been declared a potential life-safety issue.

"It's unfortunate and disappointing," said Bob Boyce, the chairman of the city's heritage development board.

Boyce takes solace in the fact the building is not a centrepiece of the streetscape.

"Given its location, it's probably not going to have a significant negative effect on the revival that's underway on Prince William Street," he said.

The city is about to begin a makeover on that block of Prince William, removing overhead wires and installing granite curbs. That work will likely be underway when the demolition takes place.

A demolition contractor has yet to be hired, but demolition is expected to occur within the next few months.

Visitor Kay Nason, of Fredericton, doesn't like the thought of seeing more open space on Prince William Street.

"None of these buildings downtown, I don't think, should go," said Nason. "I think they should all be preserved just as they are," she said.

"I only visit a couple of times a year and that's one of the things I enjoy seeing."

The building is owned by Queen City Properties and Development Ltd., which gives its address as 167 Prince William St. A city document shows a notice to comply order for the owners to make repairs was served to an address in Vaughan, Ont.

The three-storey brick building was built after two-thirds of Saint John was destroyed by the Great Saint John Fire of 1877. Canada's Historic Places website describes it as a good example of Italianate architecture from the rebuilding period in Saint John.

The building has housed offices, a liquor store and a cigar maker over the years. The Armstrong and Bruce insurance agency first occupied the building in 1911 and carried on business at the location for more than 80 years.