The future of a heritage property in Cape Breton is in doubt tonight after being seriously damaged by Dorian.

The so-called "Red Row Houses" in Sydney Mines, which date back nearly two centuries, were in the process of being repurposed, but the storm may have thrown a wrench into those plans.

The bricks that make up the houses have withstood a lot over the years -- dating back to the early 1800s -- but they were no match for the power of Dorian.   

"It was shocking," said resident Jessica Gwinn. "I pulled in and I seen it was down, so I had to call my mom."

The damage was evident the next day as the entire side end of the Red Row Houses was ripped apart.

The inside fared no better. While the exterior has now been boarded up, these Cape Breton University students were checking out the damage Friday.

They had plans to use this place as part of a class project.

"Most company houses for miners and steel workers were mostly made by wood, but this one is made by brick," said CBU student Mike He. "It's unique, so it's heartbreaking."

The townhouse complex is believed to be the oldest example of row housing in Atlantic Canada, dating back almost 200 years. While half here today is vacant. The other half is occupied by more than half a dozen residents.

"The damage is definitely a setback and tough decisions are going to have to be made, very, very soon," said Tom Urbaniak of the Cape Breton University Tompkins Institute.

Urbaniak is part of the group heading up the project to try and repurpose the Red Rows, housing that was initially built for mining management generations ago.

"The status quo cannot continue, so the site will have to be redeveloped or dismantled and redeveloped," Urbaniak said. "Hopefully, that can be done through the request for proposals, because the three lots at the end are available potentially for one dollar."

For people who live here, it's a big decision for a place they call home.

"It's very important," Gwinn said. "I was hoping they would be able to transform the end back into living quarters or even little offices to keep it alive in the community."

For now, Gwinn and other residents can only wait and wonder what the future holds for this historic building.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore.