Nfld. & Labrador

Belvedere orphanage building demolished 8 months after devastating fire

The charred remains of the Belvedere orphanage, a more than 100-year-old building that caught fire last April, are being torn down Monday.

Crews started tearing down remains early Monday afternoon

Heavy machinery is making quick work of the remains of the Belvedere Orphanage in St. John's. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

The demolition of the remains of the Belvedere orphanage, a more than 100-year-old building that caught fire last April, is well underway Monday afternoon. 

Machines could be seen dragging and knocking down what is left of the historic building on Margaret's Place.

It caught fire April 7, closing nearby schools and sending a large plume of smoke over the central part of St. John's.

The burnt-out structure has remained standing since the fire, as an effort to tear down what's left was tied up by millions of dollars of debt and unpaid mortgages.

The company that won the contract to tear it down couldn't complete the job, according to St. John's Mayor Danny Breen, so council had to go to the next-lowest bid.

That meant the cost of the work nearly doubled — to around $450,000.

In the short term, St. John's taxpayers will foot the bill for the demolition until the insurance and mortgage issues can be sorted out.

Crews prepare to tear down the former Belvedere orphanage building Monday morning. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

Just two years ago, St. John's city council received an application for an $11.7-million "full restoration" of the site, featuring a condominium complex, plus three community areas with landscaping and public seating.

In the month before the fire, the city paid contractors to board up windows and doors of the building after receiving calls that the vacant property was a safety concern and a fire risk in the neighbourhood.

The former Belvedere orphanage building on Margaret's Place in St. John's was destroyed by fire last April. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

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