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Heritage group to mull future of home


JOE BELANGER, Free Press City Hall Reporter   2004-01-14 03:49:43  



A London advisory committee will likely move tonight to designate one of the city's most historic homes a heritage site. The London Advisory Committee on Heritage will meet tonight to discuss the future of Locust Mount, the 146-year-old home built by former mayor and senator Elijah Leonard, that its current owner has applied to have demolished.

"I expect the committee will oppose the demolition and recommend the (heritage) designation," said LACH chairperson George Goodlet.

"Members of the committee do recognize this building as being an important one to preserve. We have the reasons already prepared and the recommendation should go to planning committee."

The designation would delay demolition until city officials can evaluate the building, Goodlet said. Further, since it already is a "priority one" heritage building, there are a variety of issues to be addressed for a demolition, including a public meeting and city council approval.

Rocky Cerminara, the city's director of building controls, confirmed Monday that Drewlo Holdings Ltd., which owns the building at 661 Talbot St., applied on Dec. 24 for a demolition permit.

A company spokesperson said demolition is not imminent. The company is preparing a final report on the structural soundness of the house, gutted by fire on Nov. 4, 2000, causing $450,000 damage.

"We haven't been inside the building since the fire, but there was no mention previously of it being structurally unsound," Goodlet said.

"We won't know until the city does an inspection."

Paul Lock, chairperson of the North Talbot Community Association, said Monday he is "outraged" Locust Mount could be demolished and that LACH didn't act sooner.

However, Goodlet said the committee was told nothing could be done with the building since an insurance claim hadn't been settled and the owner never indicated a desire to demolish it.

Heritage experts point to Locust Mount's historical significance as home to London's first mayor, as well as its architectural qualities, once described as "classic simplicity of design. . . . neo-classical style . . . (with the) pleasing proportions of Georgian architecture."

The house was built in 1858, a year after Leonard was mayor.


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