Residents concerned about future of Grand Falls House

The poor condition of an historic building in Grand Falls-Windsor has some residents worried, as politics has left its future hanging in the balance.
Politics and money have left the fate of Grand Falls House has been left hanging in the balance. (CBC)

The poor condition of an historic building in Grand Falls-Windsor has some residents worried, as politics has left its future hanging in the balance.

The Grand Falls House has been left largely abandoned since Abitibi-Bowater decided to shut down the paper mill.

The mansion was built for Lord and Lady Northcliffe in 1909. The province ended up owning the property after expropriating the mill about 100 years later.

Since taking over ownership, the provincial government has been waiting to hear if the town wants it, but the town says it won't meet the deadline for a decision at the end of October.

Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins says it's hard to tell how much renovation costs will impact taxpayers. (CBC)

"It's easy to take the building over, but then you got to look at maintaining that building, and the cost of maintaining that building," said Mayor Al Hawkins.

"So obviously when you look at all these factors, what you've got to determine is are you able to operate that without having to incur some cost of taxpayer dollars?"

Hawkins said a decision will need to be made soon, before the house is too far gone for repairs.

Town council has scheduled a tour of Grand Falls House for later this week to help make up their minds.

Amateur historian Dave Barker said a big reason for the reason is that the house is mostly hidden from the majority of town.

"If this building was in St. John's — I guarantee you, and I bet any money on it, I'll give you all kinds of odds — there would be a bronze plaque out in front of this road and building: heritage site," Barker said.

"It's heartbreaking, that's what it is. I know a lot of people who drive by this place every day and say, 'It's a shame.'"

The mansion has no heritage site designation, and the provincial government has no plans to do so.

Holding that status could potentially open up future funding opportunities for restoration of the site, but no one has stepped up to offer the money needed to carry out that work.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.