Former cottage of Sir Sandford Fleming falling into disrepair
HALIFAX -- A cottage formerly owned by Sir Sandford Fleming has fallen into disrepair, and now a group wants to see the city of Halifax restore it.
Nestled along the road into Halifax’s Sir Sandford Fleming Park sits a cottage that, in the late 1800’s, belonged to the engineer known for his invention of worldwide standard time, as well as his contributions to postage, map making, and railway engineering.
Fleming owned the land around it, until he gave it to the city of Halifax.
“The cottage was constructed for his gardener and his caretaker of the lands,” says John MacManus, chair of the Friends of Sir Sandford Fleming Park.
Halifax purchased the cottage in 1948 and it was registered as a Municipal Heritage Building in 1985.
“There were tenants in the building, I think it was five or seven years ago,” says MacManus.
But now the building has fallen into disrepair, with paint chipping, windows boarded up, and holes and cracks visible in the cottage.
“If something isn’t done pretty soon, we’re going to lose this property forever,” says MacManus.
The ‘Friends of Sir Sandford Fleming Park’ have launched an online petition to restore the building.
“The question is when do we do it, how do we do it and what is done,” says area councillor Shawn Cleary. “And of course it has to fit within the budget that we have.”
Efforts to restore the building have been brought up before, but the project was shelved when the city was faced with another problem.
A plot of land inside the public park went up for sale for nearly $1-million, in an effort to keep the park intact.
“What was already an ambitious plan for restoration and improvement became unattainable,” says Cleary.
Cleary says engineers have visited the cottage to make sure it is stable, and is not going to collapse.
In an email to CTV News, a spokesperson for the city says they are looking into options for the old cottage.
"Staff are currently exploring a suitable use for Fleming Cottage," said Klara Needler, a spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality. "The cottage has received minor upkeep in the interim to stabilize the building until an appropriate use has been determined."
MacManus says a previous report estimates it would cost more than $200,000 to restore the cottage.
While he understands municipal finances are tight right now, he believes doing nothing isn’t an option.
“The city has an obligation under the heritage act to maintain, preserve and restore properties that receive a designation,” says MacManus. “They’ve had many years to detail with the condition of the cottage and very least they need to start planning to deal with the restoration.”
Cleary brought up the issue at city council, and says it’s time to start to plan for the restoration and preservation of the cottage.