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Council powerless to prevent possible historic home demolition: Mason

The house survived the Halifax Explosion after being built in 1897 before being bought by the university in the summer of 2021 for a sum of '$1 million'
1245 Edward
The house survived the Halifax Explosion after being built in 1897 before being bought by the university in the summer of 2021 for a sum of “$1 million.” 

Community members in Halifax’s south end are sounding the alarm on the purchase of a property on Edward St. by Dalhousie University that they believe could see a 125-year-old home demolished in favour of a campus residence expansion.

Known as the historic Hobrecker Farmstead property, supporters say 1245 Edward St. is home to "a sweeping staircase, original fireplaces, unique architecture, and a distinctive roofline."

The same individuals also claim that despite ten months of efforts to reach university officials, they’ve received no answers about Dalhousie’s plans for the property. However, with a neighbouring three-storey student residence next door, concerns are swirling that the building could be torn down.

As of Saturday morning, a "Save the Historic Property" petition on Change.org had garnered nearly 5,000 signatures. 

According to the petition, the new owners "haven’t even emptied the contents" of the building, including a family piano belonging to the Sapp family, who formerly owned the home.

Supporters were urged to contact Dalhousie University President Deep Saini, as well as Coun. Waye Mason, who represents the constituency where the property is located.

In an interview with CityNews Halifax, District 7 Coun. Waye Mason—who serves the constituency where the home is located—pointed out the property “is a bit of a historic house,” but it is not a heritage property. While heritage properties are protected by legislation designed to preserve the history of landmark homes in Halifax, the same protections don’t exist for 1245 Edward St.

“My biggest issue with this is that we're seeing Dalhousie tear down a house in the middle of a housing crisis, and they have no plans to do anything with that property in the short or medium term,” Mason said, noting the lack of substantial building plans dates as far as the next 15 years.

Mason also suggested that in the wake of passing the HRM’s Centre Plan, Dalhousie University should focus on developing new parking lots on its existing campuses rather than tearing down other community buildings “where the window for development is maybe ten to 25 years.”

While noting the building has sustained damage from a water leak, Mason said it’s his understanding that Dalhousie bought the property in “good condition.”

“Tearing down that building and leaving it as a grassy lawn doesn't seem like a good plan at this time,” he added.

Unfortunately for supporters, Mason noted that regional council lacks any legal standing to interfere with the building’s demolition. That being said, he also believes the university has an obligation to consult with the community before making a final decision to demolish the home. 

In a press release issued ahead of a Thursday rally to stop the demolition, organizers asserted that Dalhousie University has been both “evasive and non-responsive” in meeting or contacting opponents of the Edward St. home’s demolition. 

“At this time of a housing and climate crisis, the house could be used for many purposes,” organizers argue, including renting to families or students or leasing for office space. 

The house, according to the press release, survived the Halifax Explosion after being built in 1897 before being bought by the university in the summer of 2021 for a sum of “$1 million.” 



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