Heritage committee backs preservation of 1 St. James Place

The city’s heritage committee has endorsed a council motion to suspend the partial demolition of an eight-decade-old mansion near St. Joseph’s Hospital and declare the house a heritage property.

Owner had been issued demolition permit allowing tear-down of garage, side porch

1 St. James Pl. was built in the 1930s and is located just steps from Hamilton's St. Joseph's Hospital. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The city’s heritage committee has endorsed a council motion to suspend the partial demolition of an eight-decade-old mansion near St. Joseph’s Hospital and declare the house a heritage property.

The vote comes after a tense council meeting at Hamilton City Hall that saw security remove Victor Veri, the owner of the property, after he demanded the right to speak to councillors.

Under provincial law, the heritage committee decision effectively voids Veri’s demolition permit, which authorized him to tear down the building’s garage and west-facing porch.

Hamilton developer Victor Veri spoke at a special meeting of the city's heritage planning committee the morning after he was ejected from council chambers. (Cory Ruf/CBC)

Veri made a short presentation at the Thursday morning committee meeting, which had been called solely for the purpose of discussing the council motion, introduced on Wednesday by Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr.

"Whatever you’re doing, you’re not doing it correctly," said Veri, is his less-than-minute-long speech.

 After the committee decision, he vowed to continue to fight to go ahead with the changes.

“We look forward to a happy ending.”

The Durand Neighbourhood Association had supplied the committee with letters from around 25 community residents demanding that the demolition be stopped.

“We’re ectastic,” said DNA president Janice Brown. “Taking away our cultural landscape, I think, it’s criminal.”

The two-storey home is an example of Art Moderne, a style of architecture that features bold lines and sleek, streamlined surfaces.

According to a report put together by city staff, the “heritage attributes” of the building consist of its exterior walls, including the garage and protruding porch, and the landscaping on the front and side yards of the house.

"The walls [of the garage] are poured concrete, 12 inches thick," said St. James Place resident Hinda Levine, who had launched a court injunction to prevent the demolition. "The likelihood of removing it without causing structural damage [to the house] is not good." 

Some trees on the lot have already been taken down, she said. 

The Ontario Heritage Act gives a property owner 30 days to issue an appeal to the proposed designation. If the owner appeals, the matter goes to a provincial review board.


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