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'It had to be demolished': Village of Dorchester, N.B., tears down historic home

The Village of Dorchester is located 30 minutes east of Moncton, N.B., and is home to many beautiful historic buildings.

It's also home to a great museum, a friendly restaurant and take out, a federal penitentiary and even an old jail turned into a bed and breakfast.

But like many other villages in the province, it has an abandoned building problem. Part of that problem was solved earlier this week when a historic home in disrepair was torn town on Tuesday.

The home was built in the mid-1850s and was one of three homes that Edward Barron Chandler, a father of confederation, gifted to one of his sons.

Village mayor Debbie Wiggins-Colwell said it was heartbreaking to see it demolished, but the owners of the vacant property couldn't be located.

"We did due diligence to find the owners. The owners could not be found. So through the years it has become a dangerous and unsightly premise. To keep everything safe, it had to be demolished," she said.

Joanne Rochon and her husband lived in the home for 14 years and say they couldn't bare to watch it be torn down. She still hasn't gone to the site to have a look.

"If it has to be done, it has to be done," said Rochone. "You don't want a lot of skunks and raccoons and rats and whatever decides to live in old houses to be your neighbours."

No matter the condition of a building, it cannot be torn down without consent of the owners. Last year the village hired Maritime Enforcement Services, a bylaw enforcement company, to assist them. The company's officers try to locate the owners of derelict buildings and get them up to code.

Jennifer Borne, the village's chief administrative officer, said council continues to address dangerous and unsightly premises in the municipality.

"Council is pleased with the progress in Dorchester and ongoing enforcement as supplied by Maritime Enforcement Services Inc.," said Borne in an email to CTV News. "If residents have concerns regarding a property they are encouraged to contact the municipal office."

Dorchester Jail Bed & Breakfast owner Bill Steele took CTV News on a tour of some of the abandoned buildings in the fall of 2019, and now says he is glad to see some progress is being made.

"I'm happy and sad. Obviously it was a historical old building, but it sends a signal that you know what, we're getting things cleared up here. It was unsafe, it couldn't be saved, it was too far gone. So yeah, absolute progress," said Steele.

Keillor House Museum manager and curator Donald Alward knows not every house can be saved, but would like to see some of the village's old historic homes repurposed.

"A lot of people think of a big, beautiful house and think, 'Oh, that's such a hefty upkeep.’ But the truth of the matter is, not every house has to be kept as a single-family dwelling. There are such beautiful things, like the historic properties, they can be designated historic properties, but that doesn't mean you can't change what's on the inside," said Alward.

Wiggins-Colwell hopes the next vacant building to be torn down in the village will be done so by mid-October. Top Stories


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