Nfld. & Labrador

130-year-old St. John's home levelled in minutes by excavator

A 130-year-old home on Winter Avenue in St. John's was quickly reduced to a pile of rubble Monday by an excavator.

Winter Avenue house torn down Monday, owners want to clear space for 3 lots

RAW: 25 Winter Ave. demolished in minutes Monday

8 years ago
Duration 3:49
130-year-old property demolished today. It took less than half an hour for a demolisher's excavator to level it

A 130-year-old home at 25 Winter Ave. in St. John's was quickly reduced to a pile of rubble Monday by an excavator.

CBC's Krissy Holmes tweeted the demolition of the home took less than 35 minutes.

25 Winter Ave. BEFORE demolition

8 years ago
Duration 1:24
Historic Trust president Peter Jackson discussing 25 Winter Ave. before the historic house was demolished today

The building's demolition was approved by St. John's city council. However, at least one councillor called the loss of the structure a "tragedy."

A last-ditch effort to save the house by the city's heritage committee was unsuccessful.

"I have unbelievably mixed feelings about this," said St. John's real estate agent Larry Hann.

"I think it's a real shame that they brought this down without some public consultation. I think the city is probably going to feel the brunt of it after the news hits this afternoon."

While Hann thinks crews removed some of the old radiators from the home, Hann said the majority of things in the home were torn down with it.

"Windows, doors, all kinds of beautiful trim work and wood and it's going to the landfill. Unbelievable," he said.

"I would have had liked to have a chance to go through it and see if we could salvage some of the old fireplace mantles … it's a real shame."

Council turned down a recommendation by the heritage committee to designate the house a heritage property, as the sale hinged on the new owner being allowed to demolish it.

'Total lack of regard'

Peter Jackson, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Trust, said the group is "really upset" about the home's demolition, adding it was "gut-wrenching" to watch the home being torn down.

I think it's a real shame that they brought this down without some public consultation. I think the city is probably going to feel the brunt of it after the news hits this afternoon.- Real estate agent Larry Hann

"The total lack of regard for the house, the culture, the content of the house even. No one was even permitted to go inside and take photographs of what was inside," he said.

"It looks like the whole house was demolished, contents and all. Not even a light fixture to be saved. It's just a terrible state."

According to Jackson, the trust even made a list-ditch effort Monday morning to stall the demolition by filing an appeal with city council, but were unsuccessful.

Coun. Dave Lane told CBC News last week it may have been possible to prevent the destruction of the home if the city had gone about it another way.

Real estate agent Larry Hann says he would have liked a chance to salvage some of the finishes on the 130-year-old home at 25 Winter Ave. before it was completely torn down Monday. (CBC)
Jackson said it's too late to save this home, which he said was originally built some time in the late 1880s, but he wants to change the process the city goes through to draw a clearer line for similar older homes.

"There's a heritage inventory that was done in 1976. We would like to see it updated with more information on all the properties in the city that would warrant historic protection or recognition," he said.

"We'd like to see a system in place where if a home is in danger, a demolition permit comes forward, that maybe there's a process in place that allows us to have time to evaluate it, and it feels that there isn't that system right now."

The owner of the site allegedly plans to subdivide the property into three separate lots.