New Brunswick Tribune

By river, the city of Fredericton obtains the historic Lemont House

Key takeaways:

  • The city of Fredericton has taken possession of an empty and boarded-up historic downtown building.
  • William Lemont, the son of Martin Lemont, the proprietor of a variety shop, was one of the first known inhabitants in 1887.

The city of Fredericton has taken control of a historic downtown building that has been vacant and boarded up for years.

The city bought the two-and-a-half-story Lemont House on Monday after Aquilini Properties LP, which owns Lemont House and the adjoining Hilton Garden Inn, settled a civil complaint against the city. 

According to Coun. Jason LeJeune, Aquilini launched a lawsuit against the city in 2019 over performance bond difficulties, and the building acquisition marks the end of that dispute.

The city said in a news release that it can’t discuss the settlement because it’s “sealed as per agreement between the parties.”

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According to LeJeune, the city has desired to buy the building for years, and it is a heritage protection initiative.

Staff is attempting to make the building at 605 Queen St. a heritage site, which would preserve its historic appearance, he added. He said it’s unclear whether the city will sell the building or maintain it in the public domain in the end.

LeJeune stated, “I don’t want to prescribe any outcomes.” “We’d like to do something in accord with the municipal plan… that respects the Lemont building’s history.”

Heritage enthusiasts like John Leroux have spoken out about the building on lower Regent Street in the city’s center, which has remained vacant for years.

Leroux described the news of the city’s ownership of the building as “wonderful” on Tuesday.

“It’s a crucial aspect of Officers’ Square that most people overlook,” he remarked. “It’s just a really special portion of town.”

The Second Empire-style structure was built in the 1880s. In 1887, William Lemont, the son of variety shop merchant Martin Lemont, was one of the early known residents. The son of William Lemont stayed there until the 1940s.

It was also a riverfront warehouse for the Lemont firm, which imported furniture, according to Leroux.

Aquilini Properties used it for long-term residents of their other hotel, the Crown Plaza before it was boarded up.

The building’s facade has been deteriorating for some time, with a hole in the roof and a few in the eaves.

The inside, though, is still in “excellent shape,” according to Leroux.

“I took a tour of it a few months ago, and it’s an incredible structure on the inside.”

The city stated it “performed its due diligence to ensure that it’s structurally sound and feasible in terms of future development before acquiring it” because the building had been vacant for several years.

According to LeJeune, the city will begin to preserve the structure until a decision is made on its future.

“A tree has grown out of a section of the roof, as you can see. Well, we’ll have to deal with that… to prevent any further damage, “he stated

According to Leroux, it’s a fantastic option for cheap housing, which has been a problem for the city for some time. He added that it was the inaugural home of the Fredericton Library in the 1950s, but it was later converted into hotel suites.

“So it was always used as residential for the majority of its life, except for a couple of years when it was the library,” he explained.

“Because of the suites, it’s been divided into several smaller rooms, each with its bathroom.”

Source: CBC News

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