Halifax is considering adding 17 properties to its heritage property registry — and almost all of them are located on three downtown Halifax streets.
This comes after the city’s heritage advisory committee unanimously voted for council to consider preserving these properties.
“This is the most registrations this committee has considered since the 1980s,” said Aaron Murnaghan, principal heritage planner.
The three streetscapes under consideration are on Queen, Grafton and Birmingham streets. A streetscape is a stretch of several side-by-side properties built in a similar style.
The Grafton streetscape includes a rare Romanesque revival fire station, which Murnaghan said was of particular historic value.
In a rare turn of events, committee members allowed Brian Lane, head of the firm that owns the Queen streetscape, to speak.
Lane, CEO of I.H. Mathers, said that “designating these properties isn’t going to preserve these properties the way people think they will,” since the council fails to recognize how “poor” the condition of the buildings are.
Jenny Lugar, chair of the heritage advisory committee, said it was not the committee’s job to determine whether the buildings should be kept or demolished, but rather to determine whether or not there is heritage value.
Murnaghan told the committee that the Birmingham streetscape is special because it’s a unique merger of two styles: Halifax house and bracketed style. The Halifax house style is unique to Halifax, and draws inspiration from the Georgian style of architecture.
The Queen Street streetscape, meanwhile, consists entirely of buildings constructed before Confederation. They are all in the bracketed style, which is unique to Canada and inspired by Italian architecture.
Two other properties up for consideration by council include the St. Patrick’s church rectory and the old memorial library.
The old memorial library on Spring Garden Road has been sitting vacant since the Halifax Central Library opened five years ago.
The oldest known use of the property was as a poorhouse beginning in the 1770s, and later as a burial ground. At least 4,500 people are known to be buried there, including Philippe Aubert de Gaspe, the writer of the first known French Canadian novel in 1835.
In 1884 it became a fire station, before plans were made to build a library in 1945.
Murnaghan said it’s the “last major public building in Halifax in this (neo-classical revival) style.”
Forty-four more buildings are set to be presented to the heritage advisory committee in the coming months for consideration.
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Abigail is a fourth year journalism student at the University of King's College. She is also the publisher of The Watch, the university's campus...