Montreal

After years of uncertainty, Montreal's oldest stable to come down this week

The Griffintown Horse Palace, one of Montreal's last horse stables, is getting torn down this week. But the foundation that's fought to save the 165-year-old structure is planning a makeover this fall.

Foundation fighting to preserve Griffintown Horse Palace says the hope is to rebuild this fall

The Griffintown Horse Palace, Montreal's oldest horse stable, is sandwiched between condo developments. It's coming down this week and is slated to be rebuilt before 2018. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

A foundation that has been fighting for years to save Montreal's oldest horse stable now says the best way to preserve this piece of history in a booming, everchanging Griffintown is by building it anew. 

The Griffintown Horse Palace is set to be demolished Wednesday, but the hope is that the now-dilapidated building will be rebuilt at the same site this fall.

"It's finally going to happen," said Judy Waldon, the last calèche owner and driver to use the 155-year-old stables, as she tended to her horse Princess Monday morning.

"It's going to be a good thing because we'll still be here and when it's all finished there'll be more horses that can join us."

The stable's structure was determined to be too dangerous to use, so temporary stables were built last fall to house Waldon's horses.

The foundation's vice-president, Robert Girard, says demolition has been in the cards for about a year now and a permit was issued last week. 

"We've tried to save the building and it was not possible. It's way too old ... it could crumble anytime," said Girard, adding the foundation will try to keep the property's "spirit" with the same amount of space and trees

It will also be rebuilt using recycled materials, such as bricks and beams.

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      Foundation hopes construction will start this fall

      To Waldon, the stable is an enclave that's been spared the rest of the neighbourhood's rapid change.

      "This is one of the few things that has always been here and that is still here," Waldon said, referring to Griffintown's "booming" development. 

      She said the new stables will be modern with more room for the horses.

      Renderings of the new designs show windows people will be able to see the horses through. And Waldon said the new building will allow the animals to stay inside as the weather gets colder

      The $450,000 price tag will be split three ways between the foundation, local businesses who've pledged money and the city, if all goes as planned. 
      A foundation that has been fighting for years to save Montreal's oldest horse stable now says the best way to preserve this piece of history in a booming, everchanging Griffintown is by building it anew. 0:33

      Girard explained the foundation submitted rebuild plans to the city a year ago and that it agreed to spend its $150,000 part, but the funds haven't come through.

      As for when that'll happen, "your guess is as good as mine," he said, though adding he was confident building will start in the fall and only take a few weeks.

      Marc-André Gosselin, Mayor Denis Coderre's press secretary, says the city has received a request for funding but no decision has been made on whether to grant it.

      Girard, a lawyer, got involved with the foundation in 2010, after the firm he works for helped incorporate it. 

      "I think it's important for the history of Montreal because horses were an integral part of Montreal in the 19th to early 20th century," he said. "I thought it was important for the community to keep — it's not the building — but at least a stable in the heart of Montreal."

      With files from Lauren McCallum