A regal building that’s fallen on hard times could soon come back to life.
The company that owns the former John Stanfield Inn is looking into renovating the building for future use.
“There are plans but they’re not finalized,” said Walther Lauffer, vice president of hospitality with Aquilini Properties LP - the ownership group. “We’re working with somebody now and our intention is to resurrect that property. It is a very expensive endeavour, but we intend to make it good again. We’re trying to find the right fit.”
Jan Zann, who served as a director with the Society for the Protection of Truro Heritage Properties, was thrilled to hear work could soon be done on the building.
“Seeing it the way it is has been breaking my heart,” she said. “It’s a beautiful building with a lot of potential.”
The building was constructed for John Stanfield in 1902. The contractor was Frank W. Wilson, who also built the old Intercolonial Railway Station and J. J. Snook building – which became the Nova Scotian Emporium. It was constructed in the Queen Anne Revival style, with several fireplaces. It featured hand-carved mantels, and hardwood floors and trim.
After Stanfield’s death, the structure became a rooming house, apartment building and professional offices.
In 1996, Fundy Developments sold the property to Loblaws. The building was in danger of being demolished because it was on space designated to be part of the entrance and parking lot for the new Atlantic Superstore.
A group of people expressed a desire to save the building and the company offered to sell it for $1 to anyone willing to move it. The cost of moving electrical wires made the idea unfeasible for most, but Donald Keddy owned Keddy’s Inn and Convention Centre – currently the Holiday Inn – and it was possible to relocate the building to his property without disconnecting wires.
Two heavy-duty flatbed trucks arrived, and the move took place in July 1997.
“It was an amazing thing to see it move,” said Zann. “It was quite incredible; not a piece of glass was broken.”
Fireplace fronts were taken down before the move and put back in place later. Chimneys were dismantled, and the brick was used to create a courtyard.
Carol Taggart, Keddy’s manager of operations, created the look for the interior of the building and her husband Ken, a landscape artist and horticulturalist, headed up work on the grounds. The woodwork and floors were polished, and a commercial kitchen and luxury suites were added. The inn, with Mert Mattice as manager, opened its doors for business in September 1998.
That same year, Donald Keddy was presented with the Built Heritage award by the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia.
“The best of workmen fixed the place up and it was an absolute gem with a wonderful atmosphere,” said Zann. “There’s a lot of lovely detail in the building and it would be lovely to see it restored.”
Lauffer said the company hopes to have work on the property begin this year.