Ste. Anne seeks to preserve Braerob farmhouse and heritage home


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Ste. Anne de Bellevue unanimously adopted a resolution to have the historic Braerob farmhouse in the northeast sector of the city declared a heritage site.

The City of St. Anne de Bellevue took another step forward in its efforts to preserve the Braerob farmhouse at the May 12 council meeting after a resolution was unanimously adopted to have the historic building officially declared as a heritage site.

“We’re going to try to preserve it as a heritage site,” Mayor Paola Hawa told Your Local Journal. “The next step will be to see if there are funds available to restore it. Before we do that, we have to make sure it’s designated as a heritage building. We don’t actually know where this whole thing will end up.”

In March 2014, the city put a reserve on the farmhouse to study the feasibility of preserving the stone structure and include it as part of its urban plan, even though the interior of the structure which stood abandoned for several years was gutted by fire in 2012.

“That’s one of the reasons why we put a reserve on the building so we could go through this exercise and see what if anything can be done,” said Hawa. She also noted the importance of preserving the Braerob farmhouse as part of Ste. Anne’s architectural heritage.

“The original farmhouse that stood there was built in 1797,” said Hawa. “There’s a lot of history tied to that building as well as the surrounding area and the road in front of it. Even the road was considered by the former Montreal Urban Community as a heritage road because it was part of the area that the farmers used to travel along to farm.

“In every urban plan that we’ve come up with over the past few years, that heritage building has always played an important role,” Hawa added. “It’s always been at the centre of any future development as a community centre or as a gathering place.”

Hawa said by attaining heritage status, it would enable the city to preserve its history and make it available to the community. “It’s also near the eco-territory and that’s why we always felt it would be a perfect fit. It could also be used as a welcome chalet into the eco-territory,” she said.

If the Braerob building is granted heritage status, Hawa said the next step will be to go to the urban planning committee who will then report back to council as to whether the farmhouse should be preserved. Council would then decide whether to proceed with the committee’s recommendations.

Even though the interior of the Braerob farmhouse was heavily gutted during the 2012 blaze, the exterior stone façade and a portion of the roof remain intact. Hawa is optimistic the structure can be salvaged.

“It’ll be up to the experts to let us know,” said Hawa. “The stone walls have stood there for quite a while and they seem to be in pretty good shape. The firemen decided not to knock them down. They contemplated it, did a quick review and chose not to knock down the walls. We hope there’s enough to salvage.”

Hawa said the city is also going to look into preserving another heritage building in the downtown core on St. Anne Street after a resident complained that the structure is decaying rapidly because the owner is apparently doing little to maintain it.

“It’s a beautiful little house and the owners are letting it fall into a really sad state of disrepair,” said Hawa. “If it keeps going on like that, there will be nothing left of the building. People are saying ‘please save this building’.

“We’re going to see what kind of authority we have and try to convince the owner that this is a building that needs to be preserved because it perfectly reflects the history of St. Anne,” she said. “It would be a shame to let the building fall apart.”

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