Isaac's Way plans rebirth in historic courthouse

A downtown Fredericton restaurant that was destroyed by fire last year will reopen in the historic York County Courthouse building.

Former York County Courthouse was building in 1855, declared surplus in 2011

A restaurant destroyed by fire last fall will reopen in the former York County Courthouse 2:21

A downtown Fredericton restaurant that was destroyed by fire last year will reopen in the historic York County Courthouse building.

The owners of Isaac’s Way began searching for a new home for his restaurant a few days after the eatery was gutted by fire in October.

"It was day two or day three [after the fire]. We called the family and the management together and said, ‘We're going to rebuild.’ There was no question about it we just said, ‘Let's get to work,’" said Jason LeJeune.

That work eventually led LeJeune and his wife, Tina, to the former York County Courthouse overlooking the St. John River.

The former York County Courthouse was built in 1855 and declared surplus in 2011. The Isaac's Way restaurant plans to reopen in the historic building. (CBC)

The two-storey brick building was built in 1855 and was named as an historical site in 1980.

The building has been the property of the provincial government for more than 150 years.

It's the only known building in the Maritimes to have contained a courthouse and a market at the same time.

In 1882, the market, which was downstairs, was removed and the area was used to hold records and other county offices. In 1956, it was renovated again and it served as the office building for the departments of Justice and the Solicitor General.

Now LeJeune said he is excited to transform the building yet again.

"Who wouldn't like this location? It's a dream location for us, for food and beverage and hospitality with proximity to hotels and the river and the [Fredericton] Playhouse. This is the dream," he said.

A fire destroyed the Isaac's Way restaurant in Fredericton last October. (Fredericton Fire Department)

While the building has a long history in the city, the provincial government declared the structure as surplus in late 2011 and put it up for sale in 2012.

The provincial government is in the process of offloading many of its buildings that it no longer needs.

"The successful sale of the former York County Courthouse will produce savings and revenue for the province, while allowing it to continue being used and enjoyed by the community," said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams in a statement earlier this week.

Isaac's Way wasn't just a restaurant. LeJeune also operated a weekly charity meal program at the Wilmot United Church, which was next to the old building.

As well, the restaurant showcased local artists by displaying and selling their paintings through silent auctions.

Stephanie Drier, who was also a server at Isaac's Way, sold paintings in all 17 auctions that the restaurant held.

Drier said she's hoping the restaurant will reopen soon.

"I just want to get back to work, no matter what design they have going on, I just want to get in there and start working again," Drier said.