One of Hamilton's oldest buildings is for sale - with little to protect it

Sir Isaac Brock stayed at the Hatt building in Dundas while he was on his way to Queenston Heights. Now it's on sale for $489,000.

Sir Isaac Brock stayed at the Hatt building in Dundas while he was on his way to Queenston Heights

The Hatt building dates back to at least 1804 and has no heritage designation. Now it's for sale for $489,000. (Woolcott Realty)

Sir Isaac Brock stayed there during the War of 1812, but the Hatt building in Dundas doesn't have a heritage designation.

Now, what is one of Hamilton's oldest buildings is up for sale, and Hamilton city council will vote whether to rush a designation to prevent its potential demolition. 

For all intents and purposes, its future is unknown.- Alissa Denham-Robinson

Hamilton's municipal heritage advisory committee voted Thursday to look into designating the building at 2 Hatt St., which was built sometime before 1805. Now it's up to council to decide in August whether to bump it to top priority.

The building served as the Dundas Mills post office — the first post office west of Toronto, says local historian Stan Nowak — and is where Dundas got its name. 

It is for sale for $489,000. And "for all intents and purposes, its future is unknown," said heritage committee chair Alissa Denham-Robinson.

"Don’t be TOO LATE!" says the ad for 2 Hatt St. in Dundas. (Woolcott Realty)

The building's lack of a designation alarmed committee members Thursday. It also worries Nowak, who co-founded the Dundas Valley Historical Society.

It's a really, really important building.- Stan Nowak

For years, the building's owners didn't want a heritage designation, he said. There was also no immediate danger to the building, which served as a lighting store for years, and post-2004, an art gallery.

Now it's more important than ever to protect the building, Nowak said. 

"It's a really, really important building," he said. "I would call it the ground zero of where the town got its name and how it grew from there."

Location and history

The real estate ad for the Hatt building describes it as "Dundas's oldest building."

"Location, location, location!" it says, touting the building as suitable for "residential, retail, office and more."

Richard Hatt built 2 Hatt St., Nowak said. On Aug. 9, 1812, Brock stayed there en route to Queenston Heights. Brock died in Queenston about two months later.

For decades, Robert and Barbara Folkes owned the building near the corner of Main Street and Governors Road. Andrew and Janet Galbreath bought it in 2004 for $240,000.

Most recently, the building has been vacant. As of December, the city says, more than $35,683 in back taxes were owing on it.

Nowak fears even a designation will leave the building vulnerable to development. Still, "I would love to see it designated.

"I would love to see it utilized in some useful manner that makes it a vibrant part of our community, while keeping the building intact."