Developer withdraws application to tear down historic home

One of the oldest houses in St. John's has avoided the fate of being destroyed.

Two-storey merchant mansion dates back to 1848

Residents are upset there's a request to tear down a house, which has a historical designation 8:28

One of the oldest houses in St. John's has avoided the fate of being destroyed.

"The developer has just withdrawn the application to demolish Richmond Hill Cottage," Newfoundland Historic Trust tweeted on Monday.

The City of St. John's had received a proposal to tear down the recognized historical structure that dates back to 1848.

Previously, neighbours were upset about the possible demolition of the building.

"My concern is that we're in danger of losing an important heritage structure in the west end," said neighbour Richard Ellis.

Neighbour Richard Ellis is unhappy that a development company now wants to tear down the Richmond Hill property. (CBC )

Richmond Hill, a wooden mansion built for a St. John's merchant, sits at the bottom of Shaw Street, at the intersection with Topsail Road.

The surrounding lands were approved by the city for a new housing development, but on the condition that proponent Wrightland Development protect the property.

But city council had been asked to tear the two-storey wooden building down, on grounds that it has been damaged.

"They have gone to city hall for a demolition permit on the house, citing a water leakage... and it seems to me that they have failed in their responsibility as stewards of a heritage structure," said Ellis.

House recognized as historically significant

Shane O'Dea, who has been active for many years in preserving heritage structures in Newfoundland and Labrador, said the developers' request is not acceptable.

"Preserving the building was one of the essential conditions of the permission given to develop the site," O'Dea said.

Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff said city officials have determined the house is structurally sound.

The request is now before the city's heritage committee, and is expected to go before council next Monday. The city formally recognized Richmond Hill as a heritage building in 2003.

Realtor Paul Fowler, who is representing the development, could not be reached on the weekend.