When it comes to history in Edmonton, the fight can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. The city has lost quite a few properties that many people, including the government, consider historic or important. Indeed, the Roxy Theatre’s fire, which gutted the building that was originally built in 1938, was felt by many outside the theatre community. And in the midst of the 124th St. revival, the fire was acutely felt by people who felt their neighbourhood was regaining some of its former glory.
It seems another such building is currently on the chopping block, this time intentionally rather than accidentally, and it has many people worried about the role of history in a city that continually looks forward. And indeed, the argument between personal rights, history, and development stand in the middle of this debate, focusing on the Sylvancroft Manor. The three-storey residence on Stony Plain Rd. was once the residence of Edmonton’s affluent Evans family, who built the home in 1911. The home, however, has since fallen into disrepair and may be demolished to make way for a new condo development.
City council the proposal to demolish the home earlier this week, and it may be finally time to say goodbye to the historic piece. Since being bought from bankruptcy in 2011, the lot has almost halved in value. The depreciation is due to land issues, vital repairs and landscaping projects that would be necessary for it to even be considered safe to enter, much less live in or welcome visitors. The costs, being extreme, would be too high, and so the city is approving the demolition.
The Sylvancroft manor represents many issues that face older buildings in Edmonton’s city limits. With no real purpose, and repairs that would drain public coffers, the property’s value has already cost taxpayers money. But now, the property may be gone, but what comes in its stead could help the area, and remove something people on the neighbourhood call an “eyesore.”