Demolition of Holman homestead fought by Summerside historical group

The Summerside and Area Historical Society says it is appealing a permit the city has granted to tear down the historic Holman homestead.

Owners say they've tried to sell the home unsuccessfully

Historic Holman homestead, built in 1854, could be torn down by spring if the owner doesn't find a buyer. (CBC)

The Summerside and Area Historical Society says it is appealing a permit the city has granted to tear down the historic Holman homestead. 

Kay Rogers, the owner of the property said the two-storey building on Fitzroy Street was originally built as a parsonage for the Catholic church in 1854. Rogers said the home and surrounding land was purchased by Summerside merchant R.T. Holman in 1870.

I've tried all avenues here.— Kay Rogers, owner of the Holman homestead 

Rogers said it would be sad to lose that history if the building is demolished, but that she and her husband are seniors looking to downsize.

She said the homestead has been for sale for almost two years with no offers, so they asked the city for permission to tear the building down.

Summerside issued the permit Dec. 7. 

"We certainly don't want to see it demolished, because it certainly does have significance to Summerside, and the Island and the Maritimes," said Rogers. 'There's a lot of history there."

Owners plan demolition in spring 

Rogers told CBC News she unsuccessfully approached the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and the city of Summerside to see if they'd be interested in owning the property.

"I've tried all avenues here," said Rogers. 

Once you destroy your history, you don't get it back.- Peter Holman, Summerside and Area Historical Society president

The Rogers plan to tear down the building in the spring, if a buyer doesn't come forward.

Rogers believes the property, because it's zoned commercial and is in the heart of downtown, would be a good place to build new condominiums. 

The Summerside and Area Historical Society said it is filing an appeal to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission challenging the demolition permit. 

Society president Peter Holman said this has nothing to do with R.T. Holman being his great-grandfather. He said he was shocked seeing the demolition permit go up on the homestead's front door. 

'Significant historical value'

"That such a historic property would be demolished when the residents of the city have been crying for a place to be able to establish some type of museum. This would be an ideal property in order to do that," said Holman.

"There is significant historical value to this property." 

Holman said a public meeting should have been held to discuss the owners' plans, before the city of Summerside issued the permit. 

"I'm surprised that the present mayor and council have allowed this permit to be issued without any public consultation," said Holman. "Once you destroy your history, you don't get it back." 

The Holman homestead has not been designated a heritage property by the city of Summerside, and so a public meeting was not required. 

'Push the character of the city into the 21st century'

Summerside's chief administrative officer Bob Ashley said proper procedures were followed in issuing the demolition permit for the private property. 

"Certainly, I can appreciate the aspirations of heritage proponents and their passion to preserve the historical character of the city," said Ashley.

"But at the same time, the city's also occupied by other people, proponents who believe our heritage resources are adequate the way they are and want to push the character of the city into the 21st century." 

Ashley said if the city was to purchase the Holman homestead, property taxes would have to be increased to cover the asking price and ongoing maintenance costs. He said he isn't sure that's a burden taxpayers would be willing to take on.


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